Leonardo DiCaprio testifies in money-laundering case
On Monday, Leonardo DiCaprio testified before a Washington, DC, jurors that Malaysian financier Jho Low had promised to contribute up to $30 million to aid the United States. Prosecutors claim that a foreign influence operation was carried out to hurt President Obama’s reelection bid in 2012.
Low had “a significant donation” to the Democratic Party in mind, and DiCaprio told the jury that it would be “somewhere in the tune of $20-30 million.” It was a casual conversation about what party he was in support of,” he said.
DiCaprio continued, “I basically said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money.'”
The “Titanic” actor testified as a witness in the trial of Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a member of the Fugees hip-hop group accused of participating in a foreign influence operation targeting the Obama and Trump administrations. Michel has dismissed the charges against him.
Low, a fugitive wanted on multiple federal criminal counts for his alleged role in the theft of $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, has been connected to several high-profile personalities, including Leonardo DiCaprio.
The financier helped finance “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the 2013 film in which Leonardo DiCaprio appeared and was nominated for an Academy Award. He was also known to pay Hollywood celebrities to celebrate with him.
In a legal deal made in 2018, the Justice Department and the film’s production company agreed to forfeit $60 million that was allegedly stolen from 1MDB.
Following that, DiCaprio began helping the federal government.
On Monday, he came and went from the courtroom without being seen by the television crews waiting outside.
Michel is accused of conspiring with Low to launder money from Low into Obama’s 2012 campaign. Foreign nationals are not allowed to make contributions to political campaigns in the United States.
Later, he allegedly collaborated with others behind the scenes to try to get the Trump administration to stop probing Low, and he allegedly operated as a foreign agent of China to get the administration to agree to repatriate dissident Guo Wengui.
On Monday, DiCaprio testified that he and Michel have been friends since the early 1990s, when he first encountered the Fugees backstage.
His statement focused mainly on his time spent with Low, a man who hosted celebrity-studded parties on boats and at bars.
DiCaprio claims that he and a large group of people traveled on New Year’s Eve on Low’s private aircraft from Australia to Las Vegas so that they could celebrate New Year’s twice in one night.
The courtroom erupted in hilarity when Michel’s lawyer questioned him if his client had accomplished his goal by asking about Low.
“It depends on how you look at it,” DiCaprio said.
According to DiCaprio, he encountered Low in 2010 and immediately thought of him as “sort of a prodigy in the business world.”
Before settling on Low as the financier for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” DiCaprio said three sets of investigators—his own legal team, an outside company, and the studios—conducted due research.
His staff and the companies “gave me the OK” to take Mr. Low’s money, he explained.