American rapper Pras Michel, a former member of the hip-hop group The Fugees, has been found guilty of conspiracy against the US authorities and acting in favor of the Chinese government. According to the court, he accepted more than $120 million in exchange for providing access to US officials, including Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
A Washington court on Wednesday found rapper Pras Michel guilty of ten counts of “involvement in an international conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the American government,” reports CNN. The allegations included conspiring to defraud the government USAcampaign finance violations, witness tampering and acting as an agent of a foreign government. He is facing 20 years in prison for this, the date of sentencing has not yet been set.
Pras Michel guilty of conspiracy against the US
Michel was accused of being involved in a conspiracy to help Malaysian businessman Jho Low and Chinese officials gain access to high-ranking US officials, including former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Last week, Michel testified in court that Low paid him $20 million in 2012 in exchange for helping him take a picture with Barack Obama. The prosecutor’s office claims that 800 thousand. dollars of this amount, Michel transferred 20 substitutes on behalf of Low, so that they would then transfer them in their own name to the Obama presidential campaign.
In a hearing in early April, Leonardo DiCaprio, who knew the Malaysian businessman, testified that Low intended to make a large financial contribution to Barack Obama’s campaign. Other witnesses, in turn, testified that Michel encouraged them to contribute financially to the politician, claiming that he had already exceeded the legal limit of funds with which he could support a candidate in the presidential election. The rapper rejects these claims and maintains that he had the money he received from Low on his own and spent it as he wanted.
The rapper acted for China
The prosecutor’s office also indicated that after Donald Trump came to power in 2017 and launched an investigation into the embezzlement of billions of dollars by Jho Low, the Malaysian businessman turned to the rapper again. He then gave him over $100 million in exchange for his help in putting pressure on US officials, including the US president, to drop the investigation against him. Low is accused of stealing money from the Malaysian state fund Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and is hiding from law enforcement. He is presumed to reside in China.
According to investigators, Pras also allegedly paid money to act on behalf of the Chinese government to extradite billionaire and dissident Guo Wengui, who had fled China to the US. The rapper claims that he did it because he was convinced that Guo was a criminal.
Michel’s attorney: It’s not over yet
Prosecutor Nicole Lockhar said that after Michel’s music career came to a standstill, the celebrity “was looking for other ways to get cash”. It was then that he saw a “money-making opportunity” through Jho Low, who “needed a different kind of help” to avoid punishment for his involvement in the 1MDB investment fund scandal.
According to CNN Pras, Michel remained “stoic” during the reading of the verdict and did not speak to reporters after leaving the courtroom. However, the rapper’s lawyer, David Kenner, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and announced that he would appeal. “We are extremely disappointed with this decision, but we are very confident in the final outcome. If it comes to a conviction, I’m sure we’ll appeal. It’s not over yet, he told reporters.
The Fugees band
Pras Michel was a member of the band The Fugees, which was very popular in the 90s. The group won two Grammy Awards in 1997, for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for “Killing Me Softly” and Best Hip-Hop Album for “The Score”. In the following years, Pras Michel began a solo career, and The Fugees disbanded in 2005.
Main photo source: Kevin Dietsch/StaffGetty Images North America