The 1MDB probe by federal investigators alleges that assets, including a Picasso painting given to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, were part of a Malaysian financial scandal involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund.
The U.S. Justice Department filed civil actions Thursday to seize about a half a billion dollars in assets stolen from the fund, the latest move in the long-running investigation, Reuters reported.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib founded 1MDB in 2009 to promote economic development. Fund officials and their associates are accused of taking billions of dollars from the fund, Reuters said.
"Today’s complaints reveal another chapter of this multiyear, multibillion-dollar fraud scheme, bringing the total identified stolen proceeds to $4.5 billion," acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said Thursday in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal. "This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people."
Among the assets sought are diamonds given to model Miranda Kerr, and movie rights to "Dumber and Dumber To" and "Daddy’s Home," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Last year the Justice Department moved to seize rights to "The Wolf of Wall Street." The movies were produced by Red Granite, which was founded by Riza Aziz, Najib's stepson.
DiCaprio, who starred in "The Wolf of Wall Street" and reportedly accepted gifts, including artwork and an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando in 1955, to raise money for his foundation, is cooperating with the government, a spokesman told the WSJ. He has not been charged.
"Mr. DiCaprio is grateful for the support of the government in this effort and continues to hope that justice is done in this matter," a spokesperson said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The government also is seeking luxury properties of Aziz and property and investments owned by his associate Jho Low.
"This week’s activity from the DOJ is a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case," Mr. Low said through a representative, according to the WSJ. "We look forward to the court being presented with the actual facts, which demonstrate that the DOJ’s case is completely without foundation."
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