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Rapper pleads guilty to illegal foreign influence scheme to fund Barack Obama’s presidential campaign

A founding member of the hip-hop group Fugees, Prakazrel Michel, also known as Pras, was found guilty in federal court of orchestrating a sprawling international conspiracy that involved millions of dollars in foreign money for illegal lobbying and contributions campaign to former President Barack Obama. 2012 campaign, according to the Department of Justice.

Prosecutors alleged that Michel accepted $865,000 from Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and used it to fund a network of straw donors who made campaign contributions to former President Barack Obama in 2012. Michel also be accused of trying to convince the Trump administration and Justice. The Department will drop federal investigations into Low, who was accused of embezzlement, as well as assist China in its efforts to bring a Chinese dissident back to China.

Michel, who received millions of dollars for his role in the schemes, was found guilty of 10 criminal charges, including money laundering, illegal lobbying, witness tampering and campaign finance violations. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The DOJ said, “According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel, 50, of Coconut Creek, Florida, conspired with Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, of Malaysia; Elliott Broidy; Nickie Lum Davis; George Higginbotham; and others for engaging in undisclosed lobbying campaigns under the direction of Low and the Vice Minister of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China, respectively, so that the investigation into the embezzlement of 1MDB and confiscation proceedings involving Low and others and sending a Chinese national back to China.

“As demonstrated at trial, the defendant engaged in an extensive conspiracy to use millions of dollars in foreign funds to engage in illegal back channel lobbying and make illegal campaign contributions,” he said. said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of Justice Criminal Section of the Department.

“Today’s verdict demonstrates that anyone who engages in illegal foreign-sponsored efforts to influence American officials, our elections, or the criminal justice system will be brought to justice.”

“Mr. Michel attempted to use his celebrity and access to influence US government officials on behalf of undisclosed foreign interests,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Department of Justice’s Homeland Security Division.

“This is an affront to the rule of law, and we will use the full range of tools at our disposal to hold accountable those who secretly aid foreign actors who seek to interfere with our democratic system of government.”

“Michel also conspired with Low to orchestrate and conceal a foreign contribution scheme and conduct in which they funneled millions of dollars of Low’s money into the 2012 U.S. presidential election as supposedly legitimate campaign contributions, while concealing the true source of money

“Michel received the money from Low and contributed it both personally and through about 20 straw donors. Michel also caused a joint presidential fundraising committee and an independent spending committee to submit false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

“Additionally, Michel personally filed a false statement with the FEC, conspired to commit money laundering and make false statements to financial institutions related to the foreign influence campaigns, and attempted to induce witnesses to make false statements and withhold information from law enforcement officials about the scheme.

“Michel played a central role in a broad conspiracy to improperly influence senior government officials, including the then-President of the United States and the then-Attorney General,” said Special Agent in Charge Harry A. Lidsky of the Department of justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG) Office of Cyber ​​Investigations.

Federal officials became aware of his activity in 2017, the New York Times reported. Michel was charged in 2019.

Harry A. Lidsky, a special agent with the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General, said in a statement that Michel “played a central role in a far-reaching conspiracy to improperly influence senior government officials.”

Former President Barack Obama was never accused of a “Chinese collusion scandal” during his time in office.

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