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Leonardo DiCaprio urged to step down from UN role by charity boss

A rainforest charity boss has urged Leonardo DiCaprio to give up his United Nations (UN) role due to alleged links to a Malaysian corruption scandal.

Lukas Straumann, director of the Bruno Manser Funds, a charity concerned with deforestation in Malaysia, called on the actor and environmental activist to step down as UN Messenger of Peace at a press conference in London on Friday (14Oct16).


The charity head called on The Revenant star, 41, to resign due to his alleged financial connections to individuals caught up in a U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into 1MDB, a sovereign wealth fund set up by Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak.


It is claimed more than $1 billion was misappropriated from the fund - including $100 million which was used to finance DiCaprio's 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street via the production company Red Granite.


Red Granite was founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and a major figure in the DoJ investigation.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Straumann said, "If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role."


Another controversial businessman linked to the scandal, Jho Low is also alleged to have helped raise funds for Leonardo's environmental foundation.


At the London press conference, Straumann repeated a call he made in August (16) for the actor to pay back to the Malaysian government any money he received that could be linked to the 1MDB fund.


Speaking at the press conference Straumann added, "We can't save the environment if we fail to stop corruption. He (DiCaprio) needs to become part of the solution, but today he is part of the problem."


The charity director's call for DiCaprio to resign from his UN role comes at an awkward time for the actor, as he is due to be in the British capital on Saturday (15Oct16) to attend the European premiere of his new climate change documentary Before the Flood.


The film received its U.S. debut at The White House earlier this month (Oct16), with DiCaprio giving a talk alongside U.S. President Barack Obama before the screening.


DiCaprio has acted as a UN Messenger of Peace with special focus on climate change since 2014, when he was appointed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.