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How Miranda Kerr and Leonardo DiCaprio became entangled in a global money scandal.

Hollywood A-listers Miranda Kerr and Leonardo DiCaprio are being forced to return millions of dollars worth of gifts after becoming unwittingly caught up in what the US Government believes to be a highly intelligent and intricate money laundering scheme.

The government, which broke its silence about the investigation on Friday are now attempting to recover billions of dollars they say have been misappropriated and taken from the Malaysian people without their knowledge.

And if you’re thinking all of this sounds seriously complicated, it is.

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Leonardo DiCaprio may be forced to return some of his Wolf of Wall Street earnings. Source: Getty.

Firstly, how much money are we talking?

Collectively, the US Justice Department is claiming that more than $6 billion has been stolen from a fund that was intended to be for the Malaysian people and go towards infrastructure projects.

Where did the money come from?

According to the New York Times and the Associated Press, a number of years ago the Malaysian government created an economic sovereign wealth fund known as the 1 Malaysia Development Fund or 1MDB. Government statements released at the time of the fund's creation claim 1MDB was to be a global investment fund with annual profits being returned to the Malaysian people and allocated to infrastructure projects, but that's not quite what happened...

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Miranda Kerr may be forced to return diamonds gifted to her by Low. Source: Getty.
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Who was accessing the money?

As it currently stands, the two major players behind the 1MDB fraud appear to be Malaysian financier and former Chairman of EMI Music Publishing Asia, Jho Low, and the co-founder of Red Granite Films Riza Aziz, who, it's worth noting, is the stepson of Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

How are Miranda Kerr and Leonardo DiCaprio involved?

We're glad you asked.

Kerr comes into the story as the love interest of Low, who spent millions of 1MDB money on gifts sent to the model in a bid to woo her in the months following her breakup with actor Orlando Bloom. Clearly, though, Low's plan didn't exactly work out because shortly after, Kerr began dating Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and the pair married last month.

DiCaprio's story is a little more complicated. As previously mentioned, Riza Aziz is the co-founder of Red Granite Films, a company which funded and owns the rights to The Wolf of Wall Street, the 2014 film DiCaprio was a producer on and received a US $25 million paycheck for.

Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discuss the man Miranda Kerr ultimately chose over Low, Evan Spiegel. Post continues... 

What did Low and Aziz buy with the money? And what does that mean for Kerr and DiCaprio?

As you can imagine with that kind of coin, quite a lot.

For starters, there was Equanimity, a yacht that Low cruised around the world on with Kerr, worth US $217 million. Additionally, properties in New York and California were purchased, as well as a US$46 million jet and artworks by Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Jean Michel Basquiat.

Privately, Low purchased a number of diamond rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets for Kerr and his mother - including an 11.72 carat heart-shaped diamond he bought Kerr ahead of Valentine's Day in 2014 that retailed for US $1.29 million. Collectively, the purchases are believed to be worth upwards of US $10 million.  What's perhaps most interesting, though, is that despite the gifts, it's unclear if Low and Kerr ever actually dated.

As for DiCaprio, Low allegedly spent millions of dollars travelling the world and gambling and lavished the actor with generous gifts, which included Marlon Brando's 1954 Oscar for his performance in On The Waterfront (believed to be worth US $790,000), more than $13 million in artworks gifted to him by Red Granite and a number of donations to his climate change and wildlife protection organisations.

On Friday, the US Government began attempting to recover US $711 million in assets purchased with money from the 1MDB. To comply, DiCaprio has already returned the Oscar and artworks, but it is unclear yet as to whether or not Kerr will be required to part with her diamonds.

DiCaprio may also be forced to return some of his Wolf of Wall Street paycheck.

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Jho Low in New York. Source: Getty.
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What's happening now?

Interestingly, the Malaysian government is claiming that no funds have been misappropriated.

On Friday, the Malaysian Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said there is no sufficient evidence to support the US Government's claims that money from the 1MDB has been misappropriated and expressed "strong concerns" over Prime Minister Razak being named.

Following the statement, Razak's press secretary told the media that the Malaysian Government “are also concerned by the unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to domestic political manipulation and interference," adding, "this suggests a motivation that goes beyond the objective of seizing assets,” he said, without elaborating.

The US Government, however, isn't buying it.

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Riza Aziz (second from right) with David Koplan, Mark Wahlberg, Joey McFarland and Will Ferrell. Source: Getty.

“These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia," Sandra R. Brown, acting US lawyer for the Central District of California said in a press conference on Friday, continuing, "but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed."

“We simply will not allow the United States to be a place where corrupt individuals can expect to hide assets and lavishly spend money that should be used for the benefit of citizens of other nations," Brown continued.

According to the New York Post, a number of other countries including Singapore and Switzerland are now also conducting investigations into whether or not money obtained by the fund has been spent in their countries.

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