Ex-Fugees rapper charged in campaign finance conspiracy case

Prakazrel Michel was charged in a campaign finance conspiracy that took place during the 2012 U.S. presidential election

The Justice Department claims that, between June and November 2012, Low "directed the transfer of approximately $21,600,000 from foreign entities and accounts to Michel for the objective of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money".

"Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions".

A four-count indictment accuses Prakazrel "Pras" Michel of conspiring with fugitive Malaysian financer Low Taek Jho, usually known as Jho Low, to make and hide foreign campaign contributions.

Prosecutors allege that Michel made donations to the campaign without disclosing the money's foreign origin. The Justice Department, in a civil forfeiture action announced in November 2018, said that Michel and a former Justice Department employee opened multiple US bank accounts to receive tens of millions of dollars in funds from overseas accounts controlled by Low.

Michel allegedly paid about $865,000 to about 20 "straw donors" so they could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee.

It was instead treated like a massive slush fund by Jho Low, an adviser to Malaysia's then-prime minister, Najib Razak, U.S. prosecutors have said.

Meanwhile, as Michel allegedly set up straw donors to attend fundraisers for "Candidate A" that "required a contribution of at least $40,000", he distributed Low's money by writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, court documents showed.

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The case over campaign financing is not the first time that the Justice Department has linked Michel and Low.

Mr Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, also denies any involvement.

While the case focuses on contributions to Obama, it could have broader political implications for Republicans should Michel choose to seek a cooperation agreement.

Both Michel and Low's lawyers vehemently deny that their clients were involved in such a scheme.

A spokesman for Broidy reached Saturday declined to comment. "Any implication to the contrary is a lie". Broidy was not charged.

According to a civil suit filed in November, Michel and Higgenbotham helped Low funnel some $73 million in looted Malaysian funds into four U.S. bank accounts in hopes of influencing the feds' investigation. Michel's name surfaced when those charges were announced because of his alleged work for Low, but he was not charged in that case.

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