Tuesday 6 September 2016 09:29
A Swiss foundation which has taken aim at environmentalist-actor Leonardo DiCaprio over potential links to 1MDB has redoubled its efforts. In the crosshairs this time: Swiss bank Julius Baer, a high-profile sponsor of the actor’s charitable efforts.
One week after questioning Leonardo DiCaprio over potential links to a Malaysia state fund that is engulfed in a graft scandal, the Bruno Manser Fund is now taking aim at Julius Baer.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Boris Collardi
The Basel-based foundation’s initial letter urged DiCaprio to pay back any «dirty money» to the people of Malaysia and blasted him for his ties to 1MDB adviser Jho Low, Riza Aziz, who is the Malaysian prime minister’s stepson, and Tan King Loong, another 1MDB adviser.
Julius Baer Queried
In the most recent letter, which has been seen by finews.ch, the foundation queries Julius Baer Chief Executive Boris Collardi on whether the bank maintains financial ties to DiCaprio’s foundation.
Collardi is a prominent backer of DiCaprio’s, with Baer sponsoring a glitzyannual charity fundraiser in Saint-Tropez for the actor’s charity. The two also know each other because they are both involved in an advisory body for Formula E, the world’s first electric car racing circuit.
A spokesman for the bank didn’t comment. There is no evidence that either the bank, DiCaprio, or Collardi are involved in any wrong-doing.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jho Low
Baer, DiCaprio Financial Ties?
Julius Baer is not among the banks to have been singled out by regulators for dealing with 1MDB, which include UBS, Banca della Svizzera Italiana (BSI), Falcon Private Bank, and Standard Chartered.
In the letter, the foundation asks whether Baer handles any financial transactions on behalf of DiCaprio’s foundation and what the bank is doing to rule out ill-gotten gains landing at the bank or the DiCaprio foundation.
«We are concerned that as a donor-advised fund the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation does not fulfill the usual transparency standards for environmental and human rights charities,» the Manser fund wrote to Collardi.
DiCaprio’s 1MDB Ties?
It accuses DiCaprio’s foundation of accepting funds from Aziz, Low, or Loong, who have been named in a U.S. asset seizure document, without disclosing how it came by the information.
Strict secrecy laws in Switzerland make it impossible to find out whether Baer and DiCaprio’s foundation do maintain financial ties, beyond the bank’s sponsoring of the fundraiser.
To be sure, Collardi’s ties to DiCaprio, whose Oscar-nominated film «The Wolf of Wall Street» is accused by U.S. officials of being financed in part with 1MDB money, are atpyical for a Swiss private banker.
For DiCaprio, whose ties to Aziz and Low are documented, the matter is morphing into a troublesome issue of reputation.
Specifically, the Manser fund questions whether a $700,000 Roy Lichtenstein sculpture titled «Brushstroke» donated to DiCaprio’s foundation for fundraising passed through the bank.
DiCaprio isn’t required to disclose any financial details of his charitable work because of its legal status as a foundation. The Swiss foundation asks Baer to urge DiCaprio’s foundation to provide more information about revenue, spending and charitable disbursements.
Ironically, both DiCaprio and the Bruno Manser Fonds are fighting for the same goal: the Swiss foundation is devoted to Sarawak rainforest conservation and empowering indigenous people.
It is named after conservationist Bruno Manser, who is now presumed dead after disappearing in 2000 under mysterious circumstances in a Borneo rainforest.
Bruno Manser Fonds (Funds) are designed to help conserve the rainforests and the indigenous population in Sarawak.
Tags: 1MDB, Banca della Svizzera Italiana, Bruno Manser Fund, Falcon Private Bank, Jho Low, Julius Baer CEO Boris Collardi, Julius Baer Chief Executive Boris Collardi, Leonardo DiCaprio, Malaysian prime minister, Najib, Riza Aziz, Standard Chartered, Swiss Bank Julius Baer, Tan King Loong, UBS