Crime

Leonardo DiCaprio testifies in trial of Fugees rapper Pras Michel

Pras Michel of the Fugees is on trial facing conspiracy charges as actor Leonardo DiCaprio testified about related business dealings.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio
AP
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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio testified in a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Monday in the trial of Grammy-winning musician Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, an ex-rapper with the successful group the Fugees. 

Michel faces charges including witness tampering and conspiracy. 

The trial, in part, centers around Michel's business dealings with a Malaysian billionaire named Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who is believed to be on the run from justice and currently in China. 

Prosecutors allege that Michel helped Low direct money illegally into then-President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign for reelection to the White House through straw donors. 

He is also accused of being part of an influence campaign directed at former President Donald Trump's administration to drop criminal charges that Low faced. 

The U.S. Justice Department alleges that Michel handled close to $100 million through his efforts. 

Michel, 50, has maintained that he is innocent of the allegations. 

In an indictment, the U.S. Department of Justice said Low allegedly directed how $21,600,000 would be directed from "foreign entities," in part, at least, with Michel's involvement, in order to funnel "significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money."

Low is said to have purchased art, real estate and other luxury items for high-profile people, including DiCaprio, using stolen money.

In court on Monday, DiCaprio was asked by a prosecutor, "Did you ever receive anything close to tens of millions of dollars separate and apart from 'The Wolf of Wall Street'?"

DiCaprio said he had not. 

The actor said his team and the studio gave him the approval to receive the financing from Low for the film after background checks and other vetting processes were finished and approved the business relationship. 

DiCaprio said he first met Low in Las Vegas and the two traveled together. 

The trial could see other high-profile people testify including Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.