Trial for a former Fugees member in a significant conspiracy case

Monday saw the start of jury selection in the trial of singer Pras Michel, who achieved popularity in the 1990s as a member of the hip-hop group The Fugees.

A Malaysian financier is accused of leading a global conspiracy and corruption scheme that could land Grammy Award-winning artist Michel in prison for many years.

The 50-year-old Haitian-American is charged with 12 crimes related to illicit payments made to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and a second scheme alleges a covert lobbying campaign tied to the administration of Donald Trump.

Over 30 years after the publication of his critically acclaimed album “The Score,” Michel is currently facing criticism over an alleged $100 million payment from Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho to him between 2012 and 2017.

One of the central figures in the 1MDB crisis, which has shocked Malaysian political and financial circles, is Low, also known as Jho Low.

The indictment claims that Michel used shell companies to disguise the source of the funds as he directed some of that money toward Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

Foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions to US election campaigns.

The purpose of the conspiracy, according to the indictment, was for Michel and Jho Low to secretly channel foreign funds from Jho Low through Michel in order to obtain access to Candidate A and his administration and perhaps influence them.

According to court records, Michel then vowed to exert pressure on the Trump administration to halt an investigation into Low’s involvement in the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB.

Low, who is still at large and whose whereabouts are unknown, was charged in 2018 with corruption and money laundering in connection with the theft of the fund.

The funds are said to have been used by Low and others to invest in movies like Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” buy opulent homes, boats, and artwork.

One of the potential witnesses who might be asked to testify is the actor.

The indictment also relates to a 2017 alleged conspiracy in which the musician agreed to participate in clandestine lobbying efforts to help the Chinese government “secure the return” of a dissident, the billionaire Guo Wengui, living in the United States

On separate claims that he cheated hundreds of investors to benefit himself, Guo was arrested earlier this month.

The Michel trial has mostly excluded evidence related to the case.

AFP

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