On Monday morning Leonardo DiCaprio testified in the money-laundering case against The Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel.
Leonardo DiCaprio was in court this week, and it wasn’t to film a scene for an upcoming blockbuster. The Hollywood Reporter and others report that the Catch Me If You Can star testified in the federal money-laundering case against rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel of The Fugees fame. DiCaprio testified chiefly because of his business and personal connections to fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, who was one of the chief financiers of 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
It’s Jho Low’s money that Prakazrel “Pras” Michel is accused of laundering. Federal prosecutors allege that between June and November 2012, in an attempt to bolster President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, Low put $21.6 million in Michel’s accounts, and that the rapper gave the money to about “20 straw donors and conduits” who then donated to Obama’s campaign in their name. Among the other charges made against Michel, he’s accused of attempting to bribe members of President Donald Trump’s administration into not investigating Low.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s presence in court mainly examined his relationship with Low. He testified that he first met Low and his understanding was not that he was money launderer, but a “huge businessman with many different connections in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.” Describing one of the many insanely expensive parties and trips Low was known to host, DiCaprio recounted the businessman flying himself and acquaintances to Australia on New Year’s Eve, followed by a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the holiday twice on the same day.
The star testified that it was after Low was regularly contributing to the charitable Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that the businessman brought up the idea of financing Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio made it clear he didn’t agree on the fly:
“I was given the green light by my team as well as my studio. He was a legitimate business person wanting to invest in the movie.”-Leonardo DiCaprio
While on the stand, Leonardo DiCaprio confirmed Low had spoken to him about his contribution to President Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election campaign, but stopped short of saying he knew anything about the money-laundering aspect: “It was a significant sum — something to the tune of $20-30 million. I said, ‘Wow that’s a lot of money!'”
Though most of the questions put to Leonardo DiCaprio focused on Low rather than Michel, the rapper wasn’t forgotten. DiCaprio said he did know Michel long before he met Low, first meeting him backstage at a Fugees concert in the 1990s. He also confirmed Michel was present at some of Low’s extravagant parties.