Russell Simmons was a trending Twitter topic on Monday (June 19) after his daughter, Aoki Lee Simmons, made some scathing allegations against him. Through tears, the 20-year-old Harvard University graduate accused her father of verbal abuse and harassment. She also shared a muted FaceTime call of the Def Jam Recordings legend visibly heated.
Meanwhile, his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, went on Instagram Live and claimed he was threatening her children’s lives. The family strife appears to have been sparked after their oldest daughter, Ming, wished Kimora a “Happy Father’s Day” instead of Russell. In response, he shared an Instagram Story that appeared to target Kimora, writing, “Stop telling fathers they should have fought harder to see their children & start asking mothers why he had to fight at all.” While Russell has since publicly apologized to Aoki for losing his temper, there’s more to the story.
In 2016, Kimora and Kimora’s then-husband, Tim Leissner, joined Russell’s investment company, Nu Horizons. Together with Asia’s richest man, Li Ka Shing, they invested $15.95 million into the energy drink company, Celsius Holdings. But Russell began to get suspicious when he noticed something off about his shares.
In 2021, Russell wound up suing Kimora and Leissner, alleging the two conspired to fraudulently transfer millions of shares of Celsius to pay Leissner’s legal fees and bail after he was convicted of money laundering in 2018. The problem is the nearly $44 million they agreed to fork over to the government still belonged to Russell.
In court docs obtained by AllHipHop, Russell and Nu Horizons explain the accusations in acute detail. It reads: “In or about June 2018, Defendant Tim Leissner was arrested on a Complaint. Defendant Leissner was released upon a bond shortly after his arrest. On information and belief, the bond was secured by approximately 3,972,659 shares shares of stock in Celsius Holdings, Inc. held in brokerage account number ending in ‘7002’ in the name of Kimora Lee Simmons. This included the Celsius Shares that the Government seeks to forfeit. Defendant Leissner pled guilty on August 28, 2018. When he pled guilty, he had an agreement with the government to forfeit $43.7 million.
“The government agreed to apply the full value of the Celsius Shares to Defendant Leissner’s $43.7 million obligation if the government was able to successfully forfeit the Celsius Shares. On August 28, 2018, the total value of the Celsius Shares, based on the market closing price of $4.20 per share was $13,968,956.41.”
Essentially, Russell alleges Kimora and Leissner used his stocks to pay off the government, something they were never authorized to do. The docs continue, “Unbenownst to Petitioner Simmons, while Kimora Lee purported to negotiate the purchase of Simmons’s interest in Nu Horizons, Defendant Leissner and Kimora Lee were secretly conspiring to sell Petitioner Simmons’s interest in Nu Horizons behind his back.”
Needless to say, the last two years have been complicated for the Simmons family. In the muted video of Russell, he appears to shout, “I’m broke. She stole all my money!” Aoki, however, shared a screenshot disputing the claim, telling her father, “No you LOST it.”
Whatever the case, Russell feels he was wronged enough to take the matters to litigation. In November 2022, Kimora was awarded $100,000 in legal fees as part of the ongoing case after defeating a breach of contract claim. But the case is still pending. As of May, which was when the docs were filed, Russell is still asking the Court to declare Nu Horizons has right title and interest to 49% of the Celsius Shares and to return them to his possession. Finally, he wants the Court to “exclude the Celsius Shares from any final order of forfeiture this Court may issue or, in the alternative, exclude 49% of the Celsius Shares from any final order of forfeiture this Court may issue.”