Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio took the stand in a federal trial on Monday that seeks to hammer down the details of what appears to be a money-funneling scheme that features a Malaysian financier funneling tens of millions of dollars through a prominent 90s rap artist for the purpose of donating to former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
DiCaprio plays into the saga because he was said to have partied with Jho Low, a Malaysian financier who apparently suggested to DiCaprio once during a conversation that he intended to contribute to Obama’s presidential campaign, according to the New York Post.
DiCaprio said: “It was a casual 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. … I said ‘wow, that’s a lot of money.’”
Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, founder of The Fugees, has been recruited by Low in an effort to funnel money to Obama’s re-election bid, because foreigners are not allowed to contribute to US campaigns. The report indicated that Michel had taken “tens of millions of dollars” to lobby the government on behalf of the Chinese government.
However, it turns out that much of the money was stolen. Low is now being accused of embezzling $4.5 billion from 1MDB, Malaysia’s state investment fund, per Reuters.
Low reportedly helped fund DiCaprio’s 2013 hit film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a performance that won the 48-year-old a Golden Globe for best actor. DiCaprio and Low apparently carried on a friendship for a number of years, and the actor apparently understood Low to be a significant businessman with ties to Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.
Prosecutors have claimed that Michel received over $20 million from foreign accounts, which were then passed off to 20 “straw donors from June to November 2012,” according to The Post. These donors were believed to have made the contributions to the Obama campaign in their names so that money could not be tracked back to Low.
According to Utusan Malaysia, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, has confirmed that the fugitive financier is currently hiding in Macau. The IGP also revealed that Jho Low and his family members have been seen moving freely in Hong Kong, and that the Chinese government is believed to be providing protection to them. Despite ongoing efforts to bring Jho Low back to Malaysia, there has been no positive response from the republic thus far. Jho Low had previously been located in Thailand before he entered Macau, and reportedly fled to a neighboring state after the announcement of the results of the 14th general election.
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