Just when you thought Hollywood couldn’t get any sketchier, news breaks that mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio and the founder of The Fugees were caught up in an illegal money-funneling scheme to support former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Hollywood is no stranger to scandal, but this latest revelation might just be its most shocking yet. A federal trial has uncovered a money-funneling scheme orchestrated by a Malaysian financier by the name of Jho Low, who funneled tens of millions of dollars through The Fugees founder, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel. The money was then passed off to 20 “straw donors,” who made contributions to Obama’s campaign in their names, so the money could not be traced back to Low. While this alone is scandalous enough, it’s who else was involved that is making headlines.
A federal trial on Monday is seeking to hammer out what appears to be an elaborate money-funnel scheme in which a Malaysian financier funneled tens of millions of dollars through a prominent 90s rap artist in order to contribute to the 2012 reelection campaign of former President Barack Obama.
It turns out that the Malaysian financier Jho Low had quite the celebrity connections, including none other than Leonardo DiCaprio himself.
The actor testified on Monday that he had a casual conversation with Low in which the financier mentioned his intention to contribute 30 MILLION DOLLARS to the Democratic party, to which DiCaprio replied with a wow at the “significant contribution.”
DiCaprio stated in the testimony “It was a casual conversation about what party he was in support of, I told him what party I was in support of. And he told me that he, or he and a group, were going to make a significant contribution to the Democratic Party, a sum of around 30 million dollars. … I said ‘wow, that’s a lot of money.’
Low helped fund DiCaprio’s 2013 blockbuster hit “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which earned the actor a Golden Globe. DiCaprio and Low were also reportedly friends, and the actor allegedly believed Low to be a significant businessman with ties to Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.
Because foreigners are not allowed to contribute to US campaigns, “Pras” Michel, founder of The Fugees, had been recruited by Low to funnel money to Obama’s re-election bid. According to the report, Michel took “tens of millions of dollars” to lobby the US government on behalf of the Chinese government.
The federal prosecutors have made the claims that Michel received over $20 million from foreign accounts, which were then passed off to 20 “straw donors from June to November 2012,”. Those donors contributed to the Obama campaign in their names so that money could not be traced back to Low.
This shocking revelation is just the tip of the iceberg, as Low is currently hiding in Macau, and it appears that the Chinese government is providing protection for him and his family members who have been seen moving freely in Hong Kong, according to reports. Malaysian authorities have been unsuccessful in their attempts to bring Low back to Malaysia, and he is now accused of embezzling a staggering $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s state investment fund, 1MDB.
This illicit campaign funding scheme involving Obama, Hollywood’s elite, and a Malaysian financier only highlights the corruption that runs deep in politics and entertainment. DiCaprio’s involvement has raised eyebrows, but it remains to be seen what impact it will have, if any, on his career. As for Michel and Low, they are facing serious criminal charges that could very well land them in prison for a long time. The world is watching this trial unfold, and it’s clear that this is one scandal that is not going away anytime soon.