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Fugees rapper, Pras, convicted of 10 federal finance charges

Grammy Award-winning Fugees rapper, Pras Michel, has been convicted of 10 finance-related federal charges.  The charges range from money laundering and campaign finance violations during former President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign.  

The charges stem from Michel’s connection with a Malaysian financier, Jho Low, who has been the subject of an investigation by international authorities since the 1MDB scandal; in which he conspired with Saudi, Malaysian, and United Arab Emirates officials to drain a sovereign wealth fund of billions of dollars, to afford themselves luxury items and jet setting lifestyles.  

Low was also charged alongside Pras Michel, but he is currently at large.  

US federal prosecutors found Michel guilty of making illegal campaign contributions on behalf of a foreign government, China.  Essentially, his dealings on behalf of Low, funded by Low’s embezzled money, were a direct violation of campaign laws in the US.  

Michel testified to accepting $20 million dollars from Jho Low, who wanted to have his picture taken with Barack Obama (one of many schemes in which Low attempted to bolster his image); as well as using $800,000 from Low to have friends of Michel’s donate money to Obama’s 2012 campaign, and attend $40,000 per seat fundraiser dinners in Miami and Washington DC.  Later, Michel contacted these friends (upon learning of the FBI’s investigation) and warned them that the money he gave them was a loan that would need to be paid back or legal action would be taken.

Michel was also convicted of being part of a conspiracy to lobby the Trump administration to halt an investigation into Low and the 1MDB scandal; as well as procure the arrest and extradition of a Chinese dissident living in the US.

Michel and his lawyers contended that Michel believed the money was his to spend, and he was unaware that he would need to register as a foreign agent.  

Federal prosecutors argued, to the contrary, that Michel was strapped for cash, having done very little to earn the same financial means,  years after the peak of his success as a musician.  Prosecutors argued that he knowingly did Low’s bidding for a payday.  

Michel’s lawyers have vowed to appeal the conviction after sentencing.  The most serious of the crimes Michel has been convicted of carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. 


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