Rapper accused of funneling $2M from foreign national into Obama campaign convicted in wild corruption scheme

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a former member of the rap group known as the Fugees, has been convicted of some extremely shady stuff involving former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, a jury found him guilty of 10 criminal counts related to an international conspiracy involving the highest levels of the American government.

“After deliberating for two days, a jury in U.S. District Court in Washington found Michél guilty of all the charges against him, including lying to banks, in a convoluted case arising tangentially from one of the world’s biggest financial scandals: the looting of $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund,” according to The Washington Post.

“The 50-year-old former rap star, who sat impassively as the verdicts were announced, was not accused of participating in the gargantuan theft. The charges he faced stemmed from his association with the alleged architect of the embezzlement, a wild-spending, lavish-partying Malaysian financier named Low Taek Jho, who is a fugitive from justice,” according to the Post.

Low Taek Jho is more commonly known as Jho Low. After taking the $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund (known as 1MDB), Low traveled to the United States and began “dropping huge sums of money and hobnobbing with the likes of Paris Hilton,” according to the Associated Press.

Between late 2009 and early 2010, for example, “Low and his entourage spent $85 million on alcohol, gambling in Vegas, private jets, renting superyachts, and to pay [Playboy] Playmates and Hollywood celebrities to hang out with him,” journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope wrote in a book about him, according to the Post.

Low also reportedly helped finance Hollywood films, including “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio is relevant because he testified in court that Low had seemed like a legitimate businessman and that he’d expressed interest in donating to Obama’s presidential campaign.

Fast-forward to 2012 when Low approached Michel, whom he’d reportedly met in 2006, and offered to pay him $20 million for a picture with then-President Obama.

Low knew “that Michél was a passionate Obama supporter who had met the president,” the Post notes.

Michel agreed to the deal and accepted the $20 million, after which he sought the advice of millionaire businessman Frank R. White Jr., reportedly a top campaign-contribution bundler for Obama’s reelection bid.

“Michél [later testified] he was given to understand that he should buy tickets to fundraising dinners, at $40,000 apiece, as a step toward Low getting his coveted photo,” according to the Post.

And so he did. He spent $865,000 on tickets using other people’s names (“straw” donors), and he donated $1.1 million in his own name to an Obama-affiliated political action committee.

All in all, Michel spent $2 million donating to Obama. He reportedly kept the rest of the money for himself on the basis that he’d completed the job. There was just one catch — Low’s theft from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.

[P]rosecutors argued that the donations were unlawful ‘conduit contributions’ originating with Low, meaning that Michél illegally funneled about $2 million from a foreign national (embezzled money, in this case) into a U.S. presidential campaign,” according to the Post.


But it gets worse.

Now fast-forward to 2017 when Low, who at this point was under investigation by various parties, once again reached out to Michel — this time for help dealing with the myriad of prosecutors gunning for him.

“Businesswoman Nickie Mali Lum Davis, an acquaintance of Michél’s, introduced him to an associate of hers, Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser with close ties to the Trump administration. A prosecutor described Broidy as ‘the fixer’ whom Low secretly hired to get him out of legal trouble,” the Post notes.

“Broidy testified that, after meeting with Low in Thailand, he tried in vain to sway various administration officials into believing it would harm U.S.-Malaysia relations for the Justice Department to continue its 1MDB-related investigations. In a deal brokered by Michél, Broidy said, Low agreed to pay him $50 million or $75 million, depending on how quickly he was able to quash the probes,” according to the Post.

As this effort evolved, according to the Post, Broidy met with Low in China alongside Michél, Davis, and a top Chinese domestic security official.

“Broidy said Low seemed to think that Chinese authorities could help him with his legal problems. In return, the security official wanted Broidy to use his influence in the Trump administration to secure the extradition of a wealthy Chinese national, Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of China’s government who was living in New York under a temporary visa,” according to the Post.

“Broidy said the official promised that if Guo was deported, China would release detained U.S. citizens and possibly enter into a new cooperation agreement with the United States. But back in Washington, Broidy failed in his intense lobbying campaign to have Guo extradited. Davis eventually pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. After Broidy pleaded guilty to the same offense, Trump pardoned him.”

As for Michel, he reportedly earned $100 million+ doing work for Low.

According to prosecutor Sean F. Mulryne, he conspired “to sell our democracy” for money.

“He was greedy. He wanted money, and he got it,” Mulryne reportedly said in court.

Vivek Saxena


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