Russell Simmons has claimed that his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, took his stock from an energy drink company to pay for her husband, Tim Leissner, to be bailed out of jail — but the federal government disagrees.
According to court documents obtained by HipHopDX, the United States government has filed a memorandum of law in support of the dismissal of Simmons’ claim for the stock, which is in the company Celsius.
The government’s position, as made clear in the memo filed on Thursday (December 7), is that Simmons has no stake in the claim. .
They lay out several reasons for this. First, that he was a minority shareholder in the corporation from which the stock was taken, and a shareholder in a corporation does not own the corporation’s assets.
Second, the government has taken the position that this wasn’t a proper stock sale or transfer in the first place. Rather, they claim that Leissner was moving proceeds from a bribery and money laundering scheme around.
Additionally, the government claims that Simmons gave up his interest in the corporation that initially received the stock years before the transfer took place, and his claim that he later regained that interest doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
The Celsius stock was purchased in 2015 (as part of a complicated Malaysian bribery scheme, the government alleges), and issued to the company Nu Horizons Investments, in which Simmons at one point had a minority stake, and Leissner the majority stake. In 2018, Leissner was bonded out of jail by his wife Kimora Lee Simmons-Leissner (Russell’s ex-wife) for $20 million, an amount that was secured by those shares of Celsius stock. In March of this year, the government seized that same stock as part of a forfeiture order against Leissner.
Check out the documents below.
Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2018. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
At the time, Russell Simmons alleged that Kimora ponied up $44 million in Celsius stocks (or the equivalent of about four million shares) to use as collateral for Leissner’s federal bond, pending the outcome of the trial.
Simmons recently repeated the claim about the Celsius stock in question in an interview with Graham Bensinger, which went viral on Thursday (December 7).
“I was very generous and tried to be supportive. We were together 15 years, Kimora and I,” he said. “And for eight years, we were married. And together for seven, before that. And then, I was best friends with Kimora throughout the entire raising of my children.”
“So, I tried to be flexible, and accommodating, and supportive,” he continued. “And sometimes, things don’t work out. You’ve seen the lawsuit. I had no choice. I think Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, anybody would have sued. […] She gave what is now, today, based on the value of the stock, $800 million to the government illegally, and now I’m fighting to get my half of it back.”