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Leonardo DiCaprio Testifies In Money Laundering Case Of Fugees Rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel


Leonardo DiCaprio testified in federal court Monday morning as part of a trial involving international money laundering, bribery and a prominent rap artist.

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel – a founding member of the 1990s hip-hop group The Fugees – is accused of funneling money from a fugitive Malaysian financier through straw donors to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Five years later, prosecutors say he tried to quell an investigation into the same financier under former President Donald Trump’s administration.

At the heart of the matter is Low Taek Jho, usually known as Jho Low. He is accused of masterminding an international money laundering and bribery scheme that stole billions from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.

DiCaprio’s connection to the case stems from his long-standing relationship with Low, who was one of the film’s main financiers The Wolf of Wall Street. Low is currently a fugitive, but has maintained his innocence.

According to the allegations, Michel essentially became a conduit for Low’s stolen millions and his attempts to influence the US government. Prosecutors allege that from June to November 2012, Low transferred more than $21.6 million from foreign entities to Michel’s accounts to funnel money into the 2012 presidential election. They say Michel then paid about 20 straw donors and conduits so they could make the donations in their name and hide where the money actually came from, the lawsuit said.

DiCaprio testified that he met and befriended Low at a birthday party in Las Vegas in 2010. “I understood he was a huge businessman with many different connections in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia,” he said.

The 48-year-old Oscar winner answered questions on the witness stand calmly – occasionally deferring to a vague memory of some details and dates. In addition to his relationship with Low, DiCaprio said he had known the defendant Michel since sometime in the 1990s, when they met backstage after a Fugees concert.

Low was known for throwing lavish star-studded parties and group vacations on his private jet to events such as the World Cup in Brazil. DiCaprio told of one particular adventure where he flew to Australia to celebrate New Year’s Eve and then flew to Las Vegas to celebrate for the second time in one day. Michel was present on some of these trips, DiCaprio said.

Low was a regular contributor to DiCaprio’s charitable foundation, and eventually Low came up with the idea of ​​providing primary funding for The Wolf of Wall Street.

DiCaprio said he carefully vetted Low’s funding and legitimacy before entering into a business relationship.

“I got the green light from both my team and my studio,” he said. “He was a legitimate businessman who wanted to invest in the movie.”

DiCaprio also recalled an “informal conversation” with Low in which Low told him that he intended to make a major contribution to Obama’s re-election campaign.

“It was a significant amount — something like $20-30 million,” he testified. “I said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money!'”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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