Malaysian financier Jho Low planned to donate up to $30 million to help then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, according to actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio recounted a discussion he had with Low, whose given name is Low Taek Jho, while testifying during a federal trial in Washington.
“It was a casual conversation about what party he was in support of,” DiCaprio said, telling jurors that Low said he planned on giving “a significant donation” to the Democratic Party that was “somewhere to the tune of $20 to 30 million.”
“I basically said, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money.’”
DiCaprio took the witness stand during the trial of Prakazrel “Pras” Michel of the Fugees hip-hop group, who, according to an indictment, conspired with Low to funnel money from the foreigner to Obama’s 2012 campaign.
Prosecutors say Michel received $21 million from Low and funneled the money to political committees through a series of straw donors, including various companies and people associated with the musician.
Low and Michel enacted the conspiracy “to gain access to, and influence with” Obama, the U.S. Department of Justice stated. In one instance, an associate of Michel forwarded an email from Michel asking for financial contributions to Obama and told Low that funding would “guarantee you a maximum 15 minutes audience” with Obama.
Low’s father met and took pictures with Obama at an event in Washington but Low didn’t meet with the president, according to charging documents.
Michel also allegedly attempted to conceal the funding, which ran afoul of a U.S. law that makes it illegal for foreigners to donate directly or indirectly to U.S. campaigns, and he allegedly conspired with others to pressure the Trump administration to drop its probe of Low.
Michel has denied the allegations.
According to prosecutors, China’s vice minister of public security, a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was also involved in the scheme, which included pushing to send a Chinese dissident back to China.