Russell Simmons is accusing his ex-wife of stealing shares of stock to bail her new husband out of jail.
The music producer, 63, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, May 18, against his ex Kimora Lee, 46, and her spouse Tim Leissner, 49. The complaint accuses the couple of breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, breach of confidential relations/constructive fraud and more, according to the lawsuit obtained by E! News.
Simmons, who was married to Lee from 1998 to 2009, entered a new business arrangement with his ex-wife and her now-husband in 2016, when they joined his investment company, Nu Horizons, per the suit.
Nu Horizons "made considerable investments" in the "tens of millions of dollars" range into the publicly-traded company Celsius Holdings, Inc., an energy fitness drink brand.
The lawsuit alleges that Lee and Leissner then "conspired" on May 21, 2018, to use their control to "fraudulently transfer" 3,972,659 shares of Celsius to themselves.
The saga began in 2017, when federal charges were filed against Leissner in a separate case, related to his involvement in the 1MDB fraud while he worked at Goldman Sachs. In the new lawsuit, Simmons' camp refers to 1MDB as "one of the World's largest commercial frauds." Leissner eventually pled guilty to money laundering and foreign bribery charges and forfeited $43.7 million, per The New York Times.
"Awaiting his plea deal and sentencing, Defendants Leissner and Lee, knowing full well that they would be required to pay tens of millions for bail and possible victim compensation, conspired and effectuated... an unlawful fraudulent scheme," Simmons' lawsuit states, accusing the couple of stealing the Celsius stocks.
According to the complaint, Simmons didn't give "consent" and wasn't aware of the alleged stock transfer until July 2019 when his accountants allegedly discovered the transfer.
"In short, 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," Simmons' lawyers claim.
The lawsuit alleges that Lee and Leissner later decided to "create a new spin for the conspiracy and fraud they had effectuated" by writing a signed letter dated in June 2018, writing the stock shares "have been temporarily loaned" to the mother of five "for purposes of the bond" in connection with his federal case. They said the investments "will be returned when such collateral is no longer required."
The "Vacation's Over" musician maintains they were not "legitimate loans" but rather part of the scheme, per his complaint.
Lee's legal counsel provided a statement to E! News in response to the lawsuit, saying in part, "We will confront his baseless claims." They also said, "Our team is actively working to put a firm end to his harassment."
His suit states Simmons tried to resolve this outside of court and wrote a letter to Lee as recently as May 5, 2021.
"As you know, throughout my entire decades long partnership with you I've done everything and anything to protect and promote our family," he wrote to his ex, according to the legal complaint. "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 continued, "I have invited you to share in many of my business opportunities including introducing you to Celsius which has been very lucrative for you. 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."
The hip hop artist wrote that the shares "have been locked up with the government after being used for your husband's bail money," adding, "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."
He is requesting a trial by jury.
Lee and Simmons share two daughters: Ming Lee Simmons, 21, and Aoki Lee Simmons, 18.
E! News has reached out to the three parties' lawyers for additional comment and has not heard back.