Pras Michel JOSHUA BLANCHARD/GETTY IMAGES
*Pras Michel is facing felony charges for his alleged participation in a multimillion-dollar international conspiracy to funnel foreign money into U.S. presidential elections, and some reports suggest he would’ve benefited from agreeing to testify against his co-defendant, but rejected the offer.
The former rapper from The Fugees is accused of teaming with Malaysian financier Jho Low to run a back-channel campaign that would’ve influenced the Trump administration to drop an investigation of Low and his alleged siphoning of $4.4 billion from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Beghad (1MDB).
Federal prosecutors also say that Pras, an avid supporter of Barack Obama, received roughly $100 million from Low to influence the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the New York Post.
Low, known as the “Asian Great Gatsby,” is a co-defendant with Pras, but is currently on the run. He allegedly used the stolen $4.4 billion to go on an extravagant shopping spree in hopes of influencing such celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Kerr, and Kim Kardashian to launder the funds. According to some circulating reports, Pras would face a friendlier court outcome in return for becoming a government informer. But Pras has reportedly refused.
Michel maintains that he is the lawful owner of the money he donated to U.S. campaigns. His trial begins Monday, March 27, in Washington D.C.
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Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel in 2018. Credit: Getty Images.
According to Bloomberg, Pras got entangled in “one of the century’s great financial scandals, mediated a high-stakes negotiation between global superpowers, and was accused of major crimes.” The result is a spy-movie-like story.
It has been a long journey with twists involving multiple people, including Kimora Lee Simmons’ estranged husband, Tim Leissner. The latter, a former Goldman Sachs Banker, now faces 25 years in prison.
Despite first meeting Low in 2006, they didn’t become close until 2011. Based on the Star report, Low used the money embezzled from 1MDB to finance the Leonardo DiCaprio film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and bribe some officials in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Low allegedly started sliding the embezzled money to Pras for various purposes, including donating to the 2012 Obama campaign. It is against U.S. law for foreign nationals to donate money to U.S. presidential campaigns. There was a lot of money being tossed around. According to Vulture, officials reportedly seized $95 million from Pras, who had also befriended influential Republicans to lobby President Donald Trump’s administration and to connect with top Chinese officials.
Pras faces up to 22 years in prison if convicted on charges that include one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
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