Leonardo DiCaprio testified on Monday April 3 at the trial of a member of the Fugees, recounting how they crossed paths at the “lavish partiesorganized by a Malaysian financier at the heart of one of the largest corruption scandals in the world.
Musician Pras Michel, 50, has been on trial for a week in Washington for his role in an illegal influence campaign led in the United States by Malaysian Low Taek Jho.
A troublesome friend
On Monday, he was upstaged by actor Leonardo DiCaprio who, despite his cautious tone, captivated jurors by recounting the decadent parties funded by Low Taek Jho with, according to the prosecution, embezzled funds from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The 48-year-old star has also met the one he perceived as “a financial prodigyaround 2010 at a party in Las Vegas. With a smile, he admitted not remembering too much of the second part of the evening…
The Titanic actor was then regularly invited by Low Taek Jho “on boats, in nightclubs“, with other celebrities including sometimes Pras Michel. For a New Year, the Malaysian had chartered a plane to take them to Australia and return to the United States, in order to celebrate the twelve strokes of midnight twice. During their discussions, the businessman had asked Leonardo DiCaprio, who has his own production box, if he had a project in progress. “I mentioned the Wolf of Wall Street and discussions began with my reps to fund the film.“. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the feature film, released in 2013, tells the rise and fall of a drug-addicted and corrupt broker and won an Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio.
Before accepting this money, the star’s lawyers, a private investigator and the other studios involved in the project had investigated Low Taek Jho and given “their green light“said the actor, who is not questioned by the courts.
In 2015, the actor, who also received donations from Low Taek Jho for his environmental foundation, cut ties after an article highlighting suspicions against Low Taek Jho in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund, supposed to contribute economic development in Malaysia. Low Taek Jho, who fled justice and is believed to be in China, and others are accused of using the money to buy luxury homes, yachts, artwork and surround themselves with stars music, cinema, even politics. A day, “he mentioned in passing that he wanted to make a large donation to the Democratic Party“, has also told Leonardo DiCaprio. He mentioned “20 to 30 million dollars. I said Wow, that’s a lot of money…»
It is this sum which is worth, among others, to Pras Michel to be on the dock. He is accused of having paid part of this money for contributions to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2012, hiding the origin of the funds. In the United States, donations from abroad are prohibited. The musician pleads not guilty.