Hip-hop record producer Russell Simmons is suing his ex-wife and her new husband for fraud involving their shares in the energy drink company Celsius.
Simmons is accusing his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons and her husband Tim Leissner for using about 4 million Celsius shares to pay for legal fees Leissner accumulated in a 2018 money laundering case, PEOPLE Magazine reports.
According to a 2018 Forbes article, Leissner pled guilty of money laundering in the theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB.
Simmons first tried to get the shares back amicably but, when that failed, he filed the lawsuit, PEOPLE reported. He wants to “rightfully and legally reaffirm my 50 percent of the Celsius shares,” the complaint claims.
Russell Simmons invested in Celsius in 2015.
Simmons says he was a big fan of the Celsius drink before investing in the company in 2015. He told Bloomberg’s "In The Loop" show back then that he drank Celsius almost every morning for two years.
His enthusiasm for the energy drink prompted him to talk to Kimora Lee and Leissner about investing in the company. Together the trio invested about $60 million.
“I think it's an obvious winner. People need energy drinks,” Simmons told Bloomberg.
Simmons and Leissner both reportedly held 7 percent interest in the company and Leissner spent a year on the Celsius board.
After Leissner’s money laundering conviction, Simmons found himself in the middle of a sexual misconduct scandal. Their names were removed from the list of major Celsius shareholders. However, Kimora Lee was still listed as owning a 5.6 percent stake in the company.
Russell Simmons’ net worth
Russell Simmons’ net worth is estimated at $340 million.
Born in Queens, N.Y., Simmons co-founded the hip-hop record label, Def Jam, in 1983 with Rick Rubin.
In 1984, the label released rapper LL Cool J’s single “I Need a Beat.” The label has produced music for artists such as Kanye West, The Beastie Boys, and Justin Bieber throughout the years.
Simmons also ventured into the movie business with his company, Rush Communications Inc. His movie production credits include Krush Groove, The Nutty Professor, and Def Jam’s How to be a Player.
He also produced television hits Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam for HBO.
In 1992, Simmons’ career pivoted again when he delved into the world of fashion with his Phat Farm and Phat Baby clothing lines. The hip-hop style clothing was for men, women, and children.
In 2017, Simmons stepped down from all his businesses after 20 women accused him of rape and sexual misconduct. A year later, he reportedly moved to Bali, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
Russell Simmons was married to Kimora Lee for eight years.
Simmons and Kimora Lee met in 1992, and the couple got married in 1998. They have two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.
The couple split in 2006 and officially divorced in 2008. They continued their business relationship after the divorce.