In a lawsuit involving Fugees member Pras Michel and money laundering, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a deposition.

In a felony trial involving rapper Pras Michel, a member of the hip-hop group The Fugees, actor Leonardo DiCaprio made an appearance on Monday in a federal courtroom in Washington.

DiCaprio spoke for more than an hour on the witness stand, recalling countless extravagant gatherings where he encountered Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Michel is accused of having obtained over $80 million from Low to support Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign for president and later to gain access to the Trump administration.

Low, who is still at large and was just given a 10-year prison sentence after being found guilty of fraud in absentia by a Kuwaiti court, claimed that “he had a lot of different parties.” They were on vessels in some cases. Some were at dinners and bars.

Longtime friends with DiCaprio and Michel, Low eventually contributed significantly to the financial success of DiCaprio’s 2013 movie, The Wolf of Wall Street. A multibillion dollar fraud scheme involving Malaysia’s national wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, is allegedly the work of Low, according to US prosecutors. (1MDB).

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The US Justice Department attempted to seize the film’s potential earnings in 2016, claiming that Low’s sizeable investment was paid for with funds taken from 1MDB. In the end, the federal government agreed to reimburse Malaysia’s government $60 million.

Prior to the 2012 US presidential election, Low and DiCaprio spoke, and Low “mentioned in passing” that he and a group of partners would make substantial contributions to the Democratic Party, according to DiCaprio’s testimony.

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a member of the 1990s hip-hop group the Fugees, accompanied by defense lawyer David Kenner, center left, arrives at federal court for his trial in an alleged campaign finance conspiracy, Monday, April 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

DiCaprio said, “I remember him stating a significant sum, something to the tune of $20-$30 million. “Wow, that’s a lot of money,” I exclaimed.

According to the prosecution, Low was ineligible to contribute to US political campaigns because she was neither a US resident nor in possession of a US green card. Although Low mentioned “partners,” according to DiCaprio’s testimony, it’s not clear who they might have been or whether they were able to contribute legally.

According to the indictment, Low moved more than $21 million to the US to support Obama in the 2012 election. Michel reportedly gave $1 million to a super PAC backing Obama and about $865,000 to the Obama campaign via straw donors.

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Although Michel’s defense lawyer, David Kenner, declined the chance to make an opening statement last week, he has indicated that it is unreasonable to anticipate Michel to be aware of all the specifics regarding Low’s citizenship or his alleged wrongdoings.

Kenner’s assertion is further supported by his cross-examination of DiCaprio. How could Michel have been expected to know specifics when more skilled vetters than he missed red flags in Low’s background despite the thorough vetting done on Low and other parties involved in funding Wolf of Wall Street? The actor’s lawyer, his production team, and Paramount Pictures all performed extensive vetting on Low and other parties involved in funding Wolf of Wall Street.

According to what I understand, my team and the studio gave me the go-ahead to accept Mr. Low’s funding, said DiCaprio.

DiCaprio appeared in front of a grand jury looking into Michel in the same location in 2018. DiCaprio claimed to have encountered the band backstage at a concert and to have known Michel since the 1990s, when he was a member of the Fugees. Since then, the two have remained social pals, according to DiCaprio.


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