The record executive claims his ex-wife stole stocks he had in an energy drink company to pay for her husband's legal fees.
Russell Simmons is suing his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, and her husband, Tim Leissner, for allegedly stealing stocks he had in the energy drink company Celsius, to pay Tim's legal and bail fees related to a 2018 money laundering case. In that case, Tim pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit money laundering for the theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB. According to Forbes, Tim agreed to forfeit nearly $44 million to avoid jail time.
In court documents obtained by ET, Russell alleges that Kimora and Tim engaged in "blatant fraud" in order for Tim to avoid jail time once again. Kimora's legal counsel denies the allegation.
"Knowing full well that Defendant Leissner would need tens of millions of dollars to avoid jail time, stay out on bail and forfeit monies for victim compensation, Defendants engaged in this blatant fraud to achieve that nefarious and unlawful goal," the docs state.
Russell goes on to allege that Kimora and Tim aided and abetted each other engaging in fraud together when they unlawfully transferred funds owned by Russell to their own account in 2018. Russell claims he did not learn about the transaction until July 2019.
Russell, who has worked with both Kimora and Tim in the past, claims he did not go to authorities after he learned of the alleged fraud and instead tried to settle the matter out of court for several years before bringing the current lawsuit.
In a letter Russell released within the court documents, he reaffirmed that he had no knowledge of the alleged transaction and said he was "saddened" by how his ex-wife's side has behaved.
"I am shocked and saddened to see how your side has behaved in response to my repeated attempts to get an agreement from you to rightfully and legally reaffirm my 50% of the Celsius shares, which have been locked up with the government after being used for your husband's bail money," Russell wrote. "This, by the way, having been done under an illegal transfer of my funds that I had no knowledge of and would have never agreed to."
Russell is asking that Kimora and Tim be ordered to pay money and punitive damages, and that the couple return the nearly four million shares of Celsius they allegedly stole as well as pay any legal fees associated with the lawsuit.
In a statement to ET, Kimora's legal counsel says, "Kimora and her children are shocked by the extortive harassment coming from her ex-husband, Russell Simmons, who has decided to sue her for shares and dividends of Celsius stock in which Kimora and Tim Leissner invested millions of dollars. This is an ill-advised attempt by Russell to use the legal system to access funds he is in no way entitled to, and which his own legal team confirms Russell did not pay for."
"Russell’s continued aggressive behavior not only blatantly distorts the facts, but is simply a desperate PR ploy ignoring the years of mental and emotional anguish, gas lighting, and ongoing harassment he has inflicted on Kimora," the statement continues. "Russell will be held accountable for his serial abuse and we will confront his baseless claims that he is warranted Celsius stock dividends despite his self-admitted zero contribution. This extortion attempt is especially egregious given that Russell remains contractually in debt to Kimora for millions of dollars in unpaid business loans. Our team is actively working to put a firm end to his harassment, which continues despite Russell having fled the country - he will face his own reckoning in the U.S. court."
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