Ex-Fugees rapper charged in campaign finance conspiracy case

WASHINGTON — One of the founding members of the 1990s hip-hop group the Fugees has been charged in a campaign finance conspiracy that took place during the 2012 presidential election, the Justice Department said Friday.

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 conceal foreign campaign contributions. He is alleged to have used straw donors to give campaign contributions to a U.S. presidential candidate, who is identified in the indictment only as Candidate A.

Low has gained attention in the last several years after U.S. officials accused him of masterminding a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions from the Malaysian state investment fund known as 1MDB. He’s been charged separately by both U.S. and Malaysian officials in connection with that alleged fraud but remains at large.

Prosecutors allege that from June to November 2012, Low directed more than $21.6 million to be moved from foreign entities to Michel’s accounts in order to funnel money into the 2012 presidential election. They say Michel then paid about 20 straw donors and conduits so they could make the donations in their names and conceal where the money actually came from, according to the indictment.

More than $1 million was also sent to an independent expenditure committee, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions,” said defence lawyer Barry Pollack. “Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury.”

Representatives for Low said in a statement that he is innocent and the allegations against him “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,” the statement said.

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a non-profit campaign finance watchdog group, said that his organization and another one filed a complaint against Michel to both the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department.

“It’s pretty unusual to get the government to bring criminal campaign finance cases,” he said. “On the other hand, we thought this was a clear case where enforcement was called for.”

Michel faces a separate civil forfeiture complaint accusing him in a scheme to try to get the department to drop an investigation into embezzlement from a Malaysian investment fund. Michel has denied wrongdoing in that case.

The embezzlement from the fund, known as 1MDB , became a political scandal in Malaysia. Looted money paid for jewelry and luxury art and helped finance “The Wolf of Wall Street” and other Hollywood productions films. The Justice Department last year announced charges against Jho Low and two former Goldman Sachs bankers in a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered money from the fund, created to spur economic development projects in that country.

One of those bankers, Roger Ng, was extradited from Malaysia earlier this month to face charges in New York.

Just Posted

Suspects shot at pursuing police during crime spree

No police officers were injured in May 17 shooting

Mental health survey looks at children and youth in Red Deer

Parent and guardians experiences accessing services for children

Respect Day in Red Deer

Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Red Deer

Leasee frustrated with work stoppage order at Paradise Shores

On May 17th, the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) issued a stop order at the site

Updated: Lacombe not happy with proposed Highway 2 rest stop location

Lacombe says rest stop should be further south

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Scholarship named in honour of young Lacombe crash victim

Scholarship given to committed Grade 12 teen mentors in the community

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Lawyer: Deal close in Weinstein sexual misconduct lawsuits

NEW YORK — A tentative deal has been reached to settle multiple… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

Most Read