Why Leonardo DiCaprio Testified at Trial of Ex-Fugees Rapper Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel
Leonardo DiCaprio testified at the trial of former Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, who is accused of conspiring to funnel money from a Malaysian state fund to former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
This trial delved into an international scandal involving many key players, and DiCaprio is one of them. His connections with the lead conspirator, Low Taek Jho, who is also indicted but remains an international fugitive, earned the actor a court appearance.
The role of Low and the fund in question – 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund created to promote development – extends beyond the mere use of its money for a political agenda. Low also employed the funds to support his lavish lifestyle with hefty purchases such as yachts, jets, properties in Beverly Hills, and Manhattan, as well as celebrity-filled parties with names such as Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes and Pharrell Williams. DiCaprio once famously had Britney Spears jump out of a cake at a birthday party hosted by Low.
DiCaprio accepted lavish gifts from Low such as a Picasso painting valued at $3.2 million and Jean-Michel Basquiat collage valued at $9.2 million. The actor has since returned both artworks. Low also funded DiCaprio’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, though the actor claims to have vetted the Malaysian financier beforehand.
In addition to Low, Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was also sentenced in 2020 to ten years in prison for his role in the fund’s embezzlement scheme. Moreover, Trump’s fundraiser Elliott Broidy was charged with this illegal lobbying campaign to get the Justice Department to drop its investigation of the fund’s looting.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak became chair of the fund when it was established in 2009 and oversaw it running up $12 billion in debt. It is alleged that he took hundreds of millions to fund his reelection campaign, and he was ultimately found guilty in 2020 of seven corruption charges, receiving a 12-year prison sentence.
Goldman Sachs was also implicated in this scandal, so they responded with a $2.3 billion plea deal with the U.S. government and a $3.9 billion settlement with Malaysia.
Overall, this controversy was led by DiCaprio’s acquaintance Low, who used 1MDB’s money for his own gain and as part of an illegal agenda for Obama’s reelection.
Through the use of 1MDB, Low Taek Jho was able to fund Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”, in addition to those lavish parties and other extravagant items. In 2020, Goldman Sachs acknowledged its role in the embezzlement scheme and paid out more than $2.3 billion as part of a plea deal with the US government.
Low Taek Jho was the alleged mastermind of this international scandal involving the siphoning of millions of dollars from a Malaysian state fund. Found to be a legitimate businessperson, Low used 1MDB’s money to finance “The Wolf of Wall Street” and supplied DiCaprio with many expensive gifts. Low has not been sentenced because he remains an international fugitive, although Roger Ng and former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have been convicted and sentenced in relation to the embezzlement and corruption scandals. Elliott Broidy was also charged with an illegal lobbying campaign to try to get the Justice Department to drop its investigation into 1MDB’s looting.