Leonardo DiCaprio testified in federal court Monday in a case involving international money laundering and bribery.
DiCaprio, 48, took the witness stand to talk about his connection to Jho Low – one of the primary financiers of his film “Wolf of Wall Street.”
Jho Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, has been accused of stealing billions of dollars from a Malaysian state investment fund. Prakazrel “Pras” Michel is accused of funneling money for Jho Low into Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign.
Michel is known as a founder of the 1990s hip-hop group The Fugees.
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According to the charges, Michel essentially became a conduit for Low’s pilfered millions and his attempts to influence the U.S. government. Prosecutors allege that from June to November 2012, Low directed more than $21.6 million to be moved from foreign entities to Michel’s accounts in order to funnel money into the 2012 presidential election.
They say Michel then paid about 20 straw donors and conduits so they could make the donations in their names and conceal where the money actually came from, according to the indictment.
DiCaprio is not facing any charges.
DiCaprio and Jho Low became friends after meeting at a birthday party in 2010, according to the actor. “I understood him to be a huge businessman with many different connections in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia,” he said.
The “Titanic” actor explained that he had met Michel in the 1990s while backstage at a Fugees concert.
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Low became a regular contributor to DiCaprio’s charitable foundation, and eventually Low floated the idea of providing the primary financing for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
DiCaprio said he had Low’s funding and legitimacy carefully vetted before entering into a business relationship.
“I was given the green light by my team as well as my studio,” he said. “He was a legitimate business person wanting to invest in the movie.”
The 48-year-old actor also testified about a “casual conversation” he once had with Jho Low regarding millions of dollars he planned to donate to Obama’s reelection campaign.
“It was a significant sum – something to the tune of $20-30 million,” he testified. “I said, ‘Wow that’s a lot of money!'”
While Michel faces charges, Low is currently a fugitive. The financier is named as a co-defendant.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.