In the period prior to his court case, Pras Michel was offered a deal by the justice department. The deal involved him admitting guilt to one count of conspiracy and, in return, he would be sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison and be allowed to keep half of his $100 million earnings. Despite the repercussions, Michel and his legal representative refused the deal.
Renowned Fugees rapper Pras Michel, who stood trial for a high-level political conspiracy mattering in the millions of dollars and spanned two presidencies, was found guilty on all charges. The notable court session saw testimony from actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among others.
Michel had been accused of redirecting funds from a now-absconded Malaysian financier, Jho Low, into Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. He was also accused of attempting to impede a Justice Department investigation and manipulate an extradition case on behalf of China during the Trump administration.
The federal court located in Washington, D.C., declared him guilty of all charges, including conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of a foreign government. According to his defense, the Fugees’ Grammy-winning rapper was seeking financial gain and ended up with faulty legal advice as he transitioned into the political realm.
Upon hearing the verdict Michael had no comments. His legal representative, however, expressed deep disappointment with the court’s decision and expressed intentions to appeal. ‘It’s not over yet,’ said his lawyer, David Kenner, ‘I am still very confident that we’ll win in the end.’
Michel had first crossed paths with Malaysian financier Jho Low in 2006. Low was known for his extravagant spending and contacts with Hollywood celebrities like Paris Hilton and his investment in Hollywood movies, including ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ Leonardo DiCaprio testified that Low had appeared to him as a businessman and had announced plans to donate to Obama’s campaign.
According to his own testimony, Michel agreed to help Jho Low get a picture with Barack Obama in 2012 in exchange for millions of dollars. He used a portion of this money to pay for friends’ attendance at fundraising events. He claims he was unaware that this was against the law.
The prosecutors maintained Michel was forwarding the funds on Low’s behalf and later attempted to suppress the donors involved in the incident from speaking to investigators.
It was alleged by prosecutors that, following Donald Trump’s election, Michel was again put in a position to accept millions to obstruct the investigation into accusations Jho Low was the architect of a money laundering and bribery plan that siphoned off billions from the Malaysian state investment fund known as 1MDB. Low has been branded an international fugitive but insists he is innocent.
The prosecution also maintained Michel was paid to push for the extradition of a critic of the Chinese government suspected of committing criminal offenses there, without registering as a foreign agent.
His defense highlighted Jeff Sessions’ testimony regarding this issue, who was the Trump administration’s top law enforcement until his resignation in 2018. Sessions claimed that he was aware of China’s wish for an extradition but was not acquainted with Michel. He further stated that Michel’s unsuccessful attempts to hold a meeting on the issue did not seem out of order.