Ex-Fugees Member Pras Michel Found Guilty of All 10 Criminal Counts for International Fraud
On Wednesday, April 16, rapper, Grammy winner and ex-member of Fugees Pras Michel was found guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., of 10 criminal counts for international conspiracy– reaching some of the highest levels of the United States government. The crimes were related to a failed conspiracy that aimed to help Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman and the Chinese government gain access to U.S. officials, including former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
Michel testified in his defense last week that his relationship with Low began in 2006 at a Manhattan nightclub where Low bought bottles of champagne for everyone in the club and flashed his wealth.
He added that Low paid him $20 million in 2012 to secure a picture of Low with Obama. Prosecutors alleged that Michel funneled over $800,000 of those funds to Obama’s campaign through illegal straw donors for Low.
Michel responded that he never used the funds at Low’s direction but instead spent it how he saw fit, stating to the jury, “I could have bought 12 elephants with it.”
Prosecutors also alleged–in the weekslong trial saw high-profile witnesses like Leonardo DiCaprio and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions–that in 2017 after Trump was in office and investigations began to progress into Low and his role in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from 1MBD, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, Low went to Michael again.
According to the prosecution, Michel was given over $100 million to help direct the government, including Trump, to drop the investigation into Low and extradite Chinese dissent Guo Wengui. Due to his activity, the Justice Department additionally charged Michel with acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Chinese government.
However, Michel stated he only helped Low find an attorney in the States and only told authorities about Guo Wengui because he thought he was a criminal and that the $100 million was for a media business he was creating and also the investment wasn’t from Low.
Low was also charged along with Michel – he is believed to be in China. Guo Wengui has since been arrested and charged by the Justice Department with defrauding investors in an unconnected case.
According to the Justice Department, if convicted, Michel faces a range of maximum penalties from five to 20 years in prison per count –a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.