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Leonardo DiCaprio Testifies Against Fugees Rapper Pras Michel at Musician’s Money-Laundering Trial: Details

Leonardo DiCaprio Testifies Against Fugees Rapper Pras Michel at Musician's Money-Laundering Trial
Leonardo DiCaprio and Pras Michel Shutterstock (2)

The wolf of the courtroom. Leonardo DiCaprio took the stand to testify in former Fugees rapper Pras Michel’s money-laundering case.

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The Don’t Look Up star, 48, appeared in court in Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 3, and was questioned for close to an hour about his connections to Malaysian businessman Jho Low, according to NBC News. Michel, 50, is accused of participating in a global conspiracy, funded by Low, 41, that used foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions.

Michel — who had pleaded not guilty — is also accused of witness tampering and failing to register as a foreign agent of the Chinese government, while Low is accused of stealing billions of dollars from the company 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Low remains at large, while Michel is on trial and could face up to 20 years in prison. The two are also accused of lobbying with former president Donald Trump’s administration to “extradite a Chinese dissident living in America,” NBC News reports.

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DiCaprio, in particular, was questioned about how Low helped fund the 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street — which the actor starred in and produced — using funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad. During his testimony, the Oscar winner claimed that he and his team looked into the investor “to see whether the financing was good or not and safe to accept.”

He went on to explain that Low’s funding helped cover the “financing of the film, payment of the cast and crew” and more.

The Great Gatsby star also weighed in on accusations that Low and Michel — who cofounded the Fugees with fellow band members Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean in 1990 — funneled millions of dollars to donate to former president Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. When told by Low that he planned on donating $20-30 million to the Democratic Party at the time, DiCaprio recalled that he responded with, “Wow, that’s a lot of money.”

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation previously issued a statement informing that the actor is working with the U.S. Justice Department to determine whether he “ever received any gifts or charitable donations directly or indirectly related to these parties, and if so, to return those gifts or donations as soon as possible.”

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This isn’t the first time the Romeo + Juliet star has gone to court in connection to The Wolf of Wall Street. Andrew Greene — a former stock exchange brokerage firm executive — filed a lawsuit against the film in 2014, claiming the movie defamed him as a “criminal, a drug user and a degenerate” through P.J. Byrne’s character, Nicky “Rugrat” Koskof. According to CNN at the time, he sought $25 million in damages from Paramount Pictures and other producers.

Paramount claimed the character was completely fictional, and the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, and screenwriter, Terence Winter, gave testimonies. Though attorneys for DiCaprio argued that he was not involved in the portrayal of Nicky, Greene’s lawyers insisted the actor testify. The case was later settled in December 2018 and was later affirmed by an appeals court in June 2020.

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