Leonardo DiCaprio testifies in Fugees’ lobbying trial that financier Jho Low tried to funnel $30M to Obama
By Allie Griffin
April 3, 2023 3:18pm
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Leonardo DiCaprio took the stand Monday in the federal trial of a prominent ’90s rap artist accused of funneling money from a Malaysian financier who reportedly sought to donate tens of millions of dollars to President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
The Hollywood star, who has partied with the fugitive money man, Jho Low, said the financier once casually dropped in a conversation that he hoped to make a huge contribution to Obama’s campaign.
“It was a significant sum — something to the tune of $20-30 million,” DiCaprio testified. “I said, ‘Wow that’s a lot of money!’”
Low allegedly recruited Prakazrel “Pras” Michel – the founding member of the iconic 1990s hip-hop group The Fugees – to funnel the money to Obama’s reelection bid as foreigners cannot donate to US campaigns under federal election law.
Michel took tens of millions of dollars to lobby the government on behalf of Low and the Chinese government as a whole, prosecutors alleged.
DiCaprio has been cooperating with the US government’s investigation.
Much of the money was reportedly stolen. Low is accused of embezzling a whopping $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s state investment fund known as 1MDB.
DiCaprio, 48, was called as a witness due to his years-long relationship with Low, who he believed to be “a huge businessman” with connections in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia, he said. Low helped fund his 2013 movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” for which the star won a Golden Globe for best actor.
Low, who also donated to the “Titanic” star’s charity, was known among Hollywood A-listers for throwing lavish parties and inviting people on expensive vacations via his private jet.
Prakazrel “Pras” Michel
Prakazrel “Pras” Michel is accused of profiting from an alleged embezzling scheme by Malaysian financier Jho Low.
Fugees rapper Prakazrel (Pras) Michel
Low allegedly recruited Michel into funneling the money to Obama’s reelection bid .
DiCaprio said he once joined a group who flew with Low on his jet to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Australia before flying to Las Vegas to celebrate the holiday for the second time in one day. He said Michel, who he first met backstage at a Fugees concert in the 90s, came on some of the trips.
Prosecutors have accused Michel of receiving $21.6 million in payments from foreign accounts linked to Low which the rapper then paid out to roughly 20 straw donors from June to November 2012. Those 20 or so donors were expected to make contributions to the Obama campaign in their names so the money wouldn’t be traced back to Low, according to court documents.
Leonardo DeCaprio testifies in trial of money laundering of $30M in foreign campaign contributions to Obama in 2012.
DiCaprio testifies in the trial of rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel of The Fugees hip hop group, who is accused of illegally taking tens of millions of dollars to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of a Malaysian financier and the Chinese government, in this courtroom sketch in U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., April 3, 2023.
DiCaprio testifies in the trial of rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel of The Fugees hip hop group, in this courtroom sketch in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 2023.
DiCaprio with Low in 2013.
Following DiCaprio’s testimony, additional witnesses testified that Michel had wired them thousands and asked them to make shadow donations to the campaign.
The Fugees member was reportedly paid $70 million for his assistance to Low.
He faces 11 criminal counts of trying to influence the Obama and Trump administrations. Prosecutors have also accused the musician of attempting to interfere with the latter’s investigation into Low.