Fugees founding member Pras Michel was found guilty Wednesday in a federal trial that saw him accused of money laundering, and conspiring to help a wealthy Malaysian businessman illegally gain political influence in the U.S.
The verdict was handed down in a Washington, D.C. courtroom, with Michel convicted on ten criminal counts, according to CBS News.
Prosecutors said the Grammy-winning rapper helped Malaysian businessman Jho Low launder money that Low allegedly embezzled from government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in his home country.
Michel, who was one third of hip-hop group the Fugees, testified in his own defense and said he met Low at a Manhattan nightclub in 2006. The rapper denied all wrongdoing in the case.
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Prosecutors said Low paid the rapper $20 million to come up with a scheme to illegally funnel money into former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and pass it off as legitimate campaign contributions.
In a press release, the Justice Department alleged Michel “received Low’s money and contributed it both personally and through approximately 20 straw donors.”
Prosecutors said Obama campaign officials were “duped” into accepting the illegal funds.
The money was also used to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into Low’s business dealings, and to influence an extradition case on behalf of China, in an effort to send a Chinese dissident back to China, prosecutors said.
Among the charges against Michel were conspiracy to commit money laundering related to foreign influence campaigns; witness tampering; and conspiracy to make false statements to banks, according to the Justice Department.
His attorney wants a mistrial declared.
“If we do move to a sentencing hearing I remain very confident we will certainly appeal this case. This is not over,” the rapper’s attorney David Kenner told reporters after the verdict was handed down.
The trial included testimony from Leonardo DiCaprio and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
According to the Justice Department, Low allegedly misappropriated over $500 million from the government wealth fund 1MDB. Some of the proceeds were used to finance DiCaprio’s film The Wolf of Wall Street.
Low was also charged in the case, but remains a fugitive.
Pras, who was born Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, is 50 years old. The New York native faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
A sentencing date will be announced later.
Fugees Rapper Pras Michel Convicted in Money Laundering Trial
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