Lee's current husband Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to money laundering in 2018 when he paid $44 million to avoid jail time

By Tomás Mier
May 20, 2021 02:45 PM
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Russell Simmons -- Kimora Lee Simmons -- Tim Leissner
Credit: Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic; Araya Diaz/Getty

Russell Simmons is suing his ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons and her current husband Tim Leissner.

In a complaint filed earlier this week and obtained by PEOPLE, Simmons, 63, alleged that Lee, 46, and Leissner, 49, conspired to make a fraudulent transfer of Simmons' nearly 4 million shares of energy drink company Celsius in order to pay for Leissner's legal and bail fees related to a 2018 money laundering case.

According to the complaint, Simmons attempted to resolve the issues amicably to avoid filing a lawsuit. In a letter to Lee quoted in the complaint, Simmons asked that she help "reaffirm" his 50% of Celsius shares.

"Throughout my entire decades-long partnership with you I've done everything and anything to protect and promote our family. I have never said no to any request and have always gone against my own council to offer up much more than any judge would ever require of me in order to keep the peace," he allegedly wrote, before adding, "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."

Reps for neither Simmons nor Lee immediately responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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In the note, Simmons referred to Leissner pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit money laundering for the theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB in 2018. He agreed to forfeit nearly $44 million to avoid jail time, according to Forbes.

"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 complaint read.

Simmons also alleged that Lee and Leissner "aided and abetted each other and together engaged in fraud" by unlawfully transferring funds owned by Simmons to their own account in 2018. Simmons did not learn about the transaction until July 2019, the complaint alleged.

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Along with the transfer-related allegations, Simmons accuses Lee of breaking their confidential relationship.

Now, Simmons is asking that Lee and Leissner be ordered to pay money and punitive damages, and that the couple return the nearly 4 million shares of Celsius and that they pay attorney legal fees.

Simmons and Lee were married from 1998 to 2009, although they split in 2006. The two share daughters Ming, 21, and Aoki, 18, and had been amicable business partners since their divorce.

Meanwhile, Lee shares sons Wolfe, 6, and Gary, 11, with Leissner and son Kenzo, 11, with ex Djimon Hounsou.