Fugees co-founder Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, has been charged with four counts of campaign finance violations in connection with a labyrinthine scheme to launder money from corrupt Malaysian officials into the 2012 US presidential election
According to the New York Times, Michel stands accused of facilitating the transfer of more than $21 million into the United States by a Malaysian businessman named Low Taek Jho (aka “Jho Low”). The funds were then to distributed to a network of straw donors who made campaign contributions to a candidate identified as “Candidate A.” The indictment does not specifically name the candidate in question — nor does it accuse the candidate of any wrongdoings — but it is believed to refer to former President Barack Obama, as there are mentions of White House events attended by Michel, as well as photographs of Obama and Michel together.
Prosecutors said Michel and Low hoped the campaign donations would buy them political influence
On Friday, Michel was formally indicted on four counts of “conspiracy to defraud the United States government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions,” as well as one count of “a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.” He pleaded not guilty.
In a statement, Michael’s attorney said, “Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions. Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury.”
Low, who was already wanted by the US government in connection with a multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme, remains at large and his current whereabouts are unknown. “The allegations against Mr. Low have no basis in fact,” his spokeswoman said in a statement. “Mr. Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the U.S. and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities.”