Miranda Kerr turns over $8.1M to feds in Malaysian fund ‘gifts’

The Malaysian sovereign wealth fund scandal has claimed another celebrity figure.

Miranda Kerr surrendered more than $8.1 million worth of jewelry to the Justice Department a week after civil lawsuits said it was purchased for her by Malaysian financier Jho Low with allegedly stole the funds.

Low has been tied to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who also had to fork over artwork, after also being sued by the Justice Department.

Justice seized a Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings given to Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as rights to two Hollywood film comedies, in complaint filings to claw back $540 million they say was “stolen” from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

Kerr dated Mr. Low for about a year in 2014 as the Malaysian money man was blowing through some $400 million by buying gifts for the somewhat rich and famous to launder the money stolen from 1MDB, according to the feds.

The Justice Department says that during that time he gave her four gifts of jewelry. Ms. Kerr was married last month to Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel.

Low also had connections with a former Goldman Sachs Far East director Tim Leissner, who helped the government set up the sovereign wealth fund and profited from its many bond offerings to allegedly funds airports, roads  and other infrastructure projects.

Leissner also had a Hollywood connection with his second wife Kimora Lee Leissner, the ex-wife of Russell Simmons, the cofounder of Def Jam Records. Leissner resigned from Goldman in 2016 has been barred from the securities industry in Malaysia for 10 years.

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Leonardo DiCaprio tied to “Wolf of Malaysia,” DOJ

You can file this under the heading of life imitating art

On Thursday the Justice Department seized a Picasso and Basquiat paintings given to Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as rights to two Hollywood film comedies, in complaint filings to claw back $540 million they say was “stolen” from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

The high-end art work was given to DiCaprio by Jho Low — a Malaysian financier — who the feds charged with laundering more than $400 million stolen from 1MDB through an US  account.

Low used the ill-gotten gains to fund a film production studio called Red Granite to live the life depicted in DiCaprio’s “Wolf of Wall Street” where he and his friends used the money to pay for lavish parties, gambling and yachts.

The DOJ’s filing also sought to claw back the assets of two other Red Granite films, which the federal investigators say were financed by money from the 1MDB fund.

“Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey in the 2014 comedy, and 2015 comedy “Daddy’s Home” starring Will Ferrell.

Last year, the DOJ also tried to seize the rights to “The Wolf of Wall Street” although the Red Granite Pictures said on Thursday it was “actively engaged in discussions with the Justice Department aimed at resolving these civil cases and is fully cooperating.”

“Mr. DiCaprio initiated return of these items, which were received and accepted by him for the purpose of being included in an annual charity auction to benefit his eponymous foundation,” the actor’s people said in statement on Thursday. “He has also returned an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando, which was given to Mr. DiCaprio as a set gift by Red Granite to thank him for his work on ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,'” the statement added.

Low also had connections with a former Goldman Sachs Far East director Tim Leissner, who helped the government set up the sovereign wealth fund and profited from its many bond offerings to allegedly funds airports, roads  and other infrastructure projects.

Leissner also had a Hollywood connection with his second wife Kimora Lee Leissner, the ex-wife of Russell Simmons, the cofounder of Def Jam Records. Leissner resigned from Goldman in 2016 has been barred from the securities industry in Malaysia for 10 years.

1MDB fire sale coming to Manhattan

As I have written about earlier this year on the billions of dollar siphoned out of Malaysian government investment fund, the feds on Wednesday are likely to start seizing assets bought with the ill-gotten gains.

While it may sound like a complicated bond story the assets purchased and financed through the fund are anything but.

Posh Manhattan real estate on Central Park South, financing for “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” film and profits from Goldman Sachs are but a few of the entities that could see clawbacks from the FBI.

The bond manipulation story has already cost a Goldman managing director his job, Tim Leissner his career. He oversaw all the questionable bond offerings connected to 1MDB.

Leissner who is married to Kimora Lee Simmons used the huge profits generated by the bond offerings to fund a lavish Hollywood lifestyle, including backing the Wall Street film. Leissner parted ways with Goldman soon after he subpoena by the US authorities in the case in February of this year.

Well now the unwind will begin, with posh Manhattan real estate, artwork and profits from the money being grabbed by the FBI’s international corruption unit to return to the Malaysian government.

 

Goldman's Leissner jumps ship

Power banker Tim Leissner — the head of Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia office — has left the white-shoe bank in the wake of a Malaysian government corruption investigation.

As I wrote here, Leissner who help set up financing Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s slush fund, called 1MDB, left Malaysia earlier this year for Beverly Hills with his wife Kimora Lee Simmons the ex-wife of rap promoter Russell Simmons.

(I don’t know what that says that these two were able to meet in social settings. That’s probably has the makings for an entire book.)

The international probe of the fund and Razak includes the FBI looking into the fund as a money laundering operation buying properties across the globe including multi-million dollar properties in New York City, London and Paris.

Leissner and his wife Kimora were friends with the Prime Minister and his wife Rosmah Manso, who is compared to Imelda Marcos for her ability to live a high society lifestyle while the country suffers economically. The first couple allegedly used $681 million tied to the fund that mysteriously turned up in their bank account.

Goldman for its trouble made huge fees and charges by setting up deals with the fund. Some of the fund’s transactions illustrate the cozy relationship between Goldman and the government.

The sum of three bond sales for 1MDB back in 2012 and 2013, totaling as much as $6.5 billion, reportedly yielded fees, commissions and expenses for Goldman of almost $593 million, the equivalent of 9.1 percent of the money raised. The typical cut for an investment bank is about 5 percent.

As I take out my crystal ball Leissner will not be charged with any crime, and will become just another footnote to the corruption emanating from Wall Street.

My one question, which I do not have the resources or knowledge of Malaysian banking and government to answer, but was there one or more people on Malaysian Air flight, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean, who were involved in this scandal?

Goldman Sachs' Malaysian err

So I have had my reporters digging into a scandal involving a Goldman Sachs chief and the Malaysian prime minister and would ultimately add up to a $4 billion money laundering scheme.

The bombshell case involves Tim Leissner, 45, Goldman’s chairman for Southeast Asia, who recently left the country and moved to Los Angeles to take a personal leave.

He’s married to the glamorous businesswoman and former model Kimora Lee Simmons, ex-wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

What is known at this time is that Leissner and Goldman Sachs set up this Malaysian state fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDb) with the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Also $681 million tied to the fund mysteriously turned up in the bank account of Razak. Soon thereafter Leissner took his leave.

All government investigations have found no guilty parties as to the money transfer or its use as a slush fund for Razak.

Our reporting turned up a friendship between Kimora Lee Simmons and the Razak’s wife Rosmah Mansor.

Some of the fund’s transactions illustrate the cozy relationship between Goldman and the government.

The sum of three bond sales for 1MDB back in 2012 and 2013, totaling as much as $6.5 billion, reportedly yielded fees, commissions and expenses for Goldman of almost $593 million, the equivalent of 9.1 percent of the money raised. The typical cut for an investment bank is about 5 percent.

A lengthy Wall Street Journal story on Tuesday laid out the frustration of Malaysian police officials in getting to the bottom of this investigations, yet neglected to mention Goldman or Leissner in the story.