The Fugees’ Pras Michel, one of the members from the influential hip-hop group The Fugees, which included Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, is being indicted by the United State Department of Justice forlaundering. The criminal primacy alleges the illegal money transfer is related to the presidential election of 2012, Consequence of Sound reports.
Report from the New York Times indicate that the Justice Department has accused Michel of helping Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho in the transfer of approximately $21,600,000 from foreign entities and accounts. The funds were donated to a straw donor network who in return gave the funds to “Candidate A” in the 2012 US presidential election without indicating the source of the money. The indictment doesn’t specifically mention which candidate received the funds and does not accuse said candidate of wrongdoings, though Consequence of Sound notes that Michel had been photographed with former President Barack Obama and had attended White House events during his term.
“To facilitate the excessive contributions and conceal their true source, Michel paid approximately $865,000 of the money received from Low to about 20 straw donors, or conduits, so that the straw donors could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee,” the Justice Department states. “In addition, Michel personally directed more than $1 million of the money received from Low to an independent expenditure committee also involved in the presidential election in 2012.”
He was indicted on four counts of “conspiracy to defraud the United States government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions.” Additionally, he was indicted on one count of creating “a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.”
The musician’s attorney Barry Pollack 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.”
Meanwhile, Low’s spokesperson said in his statement, “Mr. Low is innocent — and he is presumed innocent under U.S. law. The allegations against Mr. Low have no basis in fact: 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.” Low and Michel were already involved in a separate money laundering scheme in connection with the 2016 presidential election, though Michel was not indicted for those allegations.