Charity demands Leonardo DiCaprio step down as environmental ambassador

A charity that focuses on protecting rainforests has demanded that Leonardo DiCaprio step down from his role as a United Nations Messenger for Peace due to his alleged ties to corrupt businessmen with not-so-environmentally-friendly track records.

According to Variety, the Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund asked the Oscar-winning actor to relinquish his title Friday amid allegations of his relationships with Riza Aziz and Jho Low, two businessmen at the heart of a Malaysian corruption scandal.

“Leonardo DiCaprio has consistently refused to explain his close personal and financial ties with key persons of the Malaysian 1MDB scandal,” Lukas Straumann, director of the Bruno Manser Fund, told Variety.

“This is unacceptable. If DiCaprio fails to distance himself from Malaysian corruption, he should resign as UN Messenger of Peace for climate change. We can’t save the environment if we fail to stop corruption.”

Both Aziz and Low are accused of funneling money from the 1MDB fund to various projects involving the star actor. DiCaprio’s role as producer and actor in "The Wolf of Wall Street" as well as donations to his charity, the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation, are all said to have received diverted funds at the behest of these two men.

1MDB, whose full name is the 1 Malaysian Development Berhad, was formed with the goal of encouraging economic development within Malaysia. It has, however been plagued by corruption.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, head of the Sarawak Report, which monitors corruption in Malaysia, implicated the fund in paying off politicians who have contributed to environmental degradation within the country. According to Brown, one of 1MDB’s primary activities was to “pay off the chief minister of Sarawak,” the Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, one of the hardest hit areas in terms of deforestation.

The announcement comes just ahead of DiCaprio’s European premiere of his new film, "Before The Flood," a documentary about climate change.