Leonardo DiCaprio testified in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Monday in the trial of Pras Michel — a founding member of the ’90s group the Fugees — on charges Michel ran an illegal multimillion-dollar influence scheme, which he denies.
DiCaprio, called as a prosecution witness, answered questions from the government about his relationship with alleged fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
“He would have a multitude of lavish parties,” DiCaprio said.
Low had been inquiring about projects DiCaprio was interested in pursuing when DiCaprio broached the idea of financing his movie The Wolf of Wall Street, the actor testified. At the time, DiCaprio said he only knew of Low as an “incredibly successful” businessman.
After DiCaprio and the studio conducted background checks, DiCaprio said, his representatives gave the “green light” to proceed with Low financing the film through his production company, Red Granite Pictures.
At one point, DiCaprio described a discussion with Low about politics in which he said the financier discussed making a “significant donation” to the Democratic Party of about “$20 to $30 million.”
“I said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,"” DiCaprio recalled.
The defense questioned DiCaprio directly about potential problems with the foreign financing of The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio said he was aware of “complications” with the money, but that he was never asked to give any of it back.
Prosecutors appeared to use DiCaprio’s testimony to show the jury how Low allegedly leveraged money to gain access to powerful and wealthy people, including celebrities.
DiCaprio is not accused of criminal wrongdoing.
Michel is charged with conspiring to commit fraud, making illegal campaign contributions and falsifying records, among other counts. He declined to comment on DiCaprio’s testimony when asked by ABC News on Monday.
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