Leonardo DiCaprio has appeared in court this week (April 3) in the money laundering and bribery trial centred around former Fugees member Pras Michel.
Michel is accused of participating in a global campaign-finance conspiracy funded by Jho Low, a businessman who allegedly stole billions from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
Michel has pleaded not guilty to the charges (via CNN). According to CNN, “Low remains at large”; he has reportedly previously denied the charges in the past.
Last year, speculation circled that Fugees cancelled their 25th anniversary tour celebrating their second album ‘The Score’ not due to COVID concerns, as originally stated, but due to Michel’s ongoing legal issues.
DiCaprio, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, took to the witness stand for an hour to testify about his relationship with Michel and Low. Prosecutors are reportedly trying to show that Low used money to win influence with actors, models and politicians in the US.
According to prosecutors, Low and DiCaprio were introduced by the stepson of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
As DiCaprio took to the stand, Prosecutor Nicole Lockhart said to DiCaprio: “At the risk of asking a stupid question, what do you do for a living.”
DiCaprio responded: “I am an actor.”
When asked about Low, DiCaprio said he thought he was a “sort of a prodigy in the business world and ultra-successful”. He also said he met Michel prior to this at a Fugees concert in the ’90s.
DiCaprio also told the jury he spoke with Low in 2012 about the upcoming presidential election.
“It was a causal conversation about what party he was in support of, I told him what party I was in support of. And he told me that he, or he and a group, were going to make a significant contribution to the Democratic Party,” he said, adding that the donation was around $20million or $30million.
“I said ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,’” DiCaprio added.
Prosecutors are alleging that money was stolen from 1MDB and that Michel helped Low make donations through a series of straw donors.
DiCaprio testified that Low eventually offered to fund a movie for DiCaprio. Prosecutors allege that Low laundered money from 1MDB through Red Granite Pictures, which allegedly used some of money to fund movies including The Wolf of Wall Street, which DiCaprio starred in.
DiCaprio also went on to testify that some of the money from Low went into his environmental foundation.
A spokesperson for DiCaprio previously told CNN that he is currently working with prosecutors to return any funds he or his charities received from 1MDB.
NME has reached out to Red Granite Pictures for comment.