Leonardo DiCaprio may have won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of “Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort, but the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office isn’t ready to give out accolades to the real-life man.
Prosecutors claim that Belfort has been neglecting to pay his court-ordered restitution to victims of his schemes. The attorney’s office says that instead, Belfort has been living off of book proceeds, movie royalties and motivational-speaker fees in Australia, where any income cannot be touched by U.S. tax authorities.
Belfort pleaded guilty in 1999 to defrauding investors of more than $200 million. He was ordered by the court to pay back $110.4 million to his victims, including 50 percent of his gross income until the debt was paid. Recent documents, however, claim that he has been shirking his court-ordered responsibilities.
According to The Wall Street Journal, court documents filed by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch show that Belfort has made more than $1 million in recent years from book sales and movie royalties alone. However, his victims have only seen a small percentage of those funds, and even then the funds have only come after court-ordered restraining notices, such as $125,000 that was recovered when a court-ordered restraining notice was placed on “Wolf of Wall Street” movie production company Red Granite Pictures.
The attorney’s office decided to go public with their comments following what the office believed to be untrue remarks from Belfort’s camp. In a Dec. 29 Facebook post, Belfort claimed that he was giving 100 percent of his movie and book proceeds to victims rather than just the court-ordered 50 percent. “For the record: I am not making any royalties off the film or the books, and I am totally content with that,” Belfort said.
Belfort’s attorney, Nicholas De Feis, backed up his claims. De Feis claims that his client had paid all restitution ordered, and he also said that Belfort had only traveled to Australia for business reasons and was living in California. “He's made payments as he was required to make payments and as he earned income,” De Feis told the WSJ. “He has never run from his obligations.”
However, Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, disagrees. “We want to set the record straight,” said Mr. Nardoza. “Belfort's making these claims, and they're not factual. He's in Australia and using that loophole to avoid paying.”
For more on the legal war on Wall Street, check out these InsideCounsel articles: