A Washington, D.C., jury found famous rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel guilty on 10 federal charges, including corruption, conspiracy and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.
The Grammy award-winning artist from the world-famous 1992 hip-hop group “The Fugees” who was at the center of multimillion-dollar political conspiracies was convicted on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. The trial included testimony from high profile political and entertainment figures, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Michel received more than $100 million from Malaysian billionaire Jho Low, which he used effort to influence American politics, prosecutors charged. He was also convicted of lobbying on behalf of the Chinese government, according to the BBC.
Fugees rapper Pras convicted in U.S. over lobbying campaigns with Malaysian financier https://t.co/fS4lcm4E8T
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) April 26, 2023
Michel faces prison time, but his lawyer, David Kenner, remains adamant about his client’s innocence. He has already planned to file an appeal and has also filed motions for a mistrial, according to the BBC.
“This is not over,” Mr. Kenner said. “I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”
The trial began March 30 and included testimony accusing Michel of bringing “secret, illegal, foreign influence to bear” during the Obama and Trump administrations between 2012 and 2017, according to the BBC.
Low allegedly funneled money to Michel, and is accused of stealing about $4bn from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund during the 1MDB scandal, according to the BBC. He is currently wanted by the U.S. government.
It is alleged that Low helped finance DiCaprio’s 2013 movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street” by using stolen money from the sovereign fund.
Michel allegedly helped lobby Trump administration officials to drop their investigation into Mr. Low’s involvement in the matter, according to the BBC.
— Rap-Up (@RapUp) April 27, 2023
Michel said he met Low in 2006 when he was associated with big Hollywood names and helped finance Hollywood films, including DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio testified that Low seemed to be a legitimate businessman who was interested in donating to former President Barack Obama’s campaign, according to The Associated Press.(RELATED: 3 Men Convicted In Murder Of Prominent Artist XXXTentacion)
Michel said that Low was willing to pay millions to have a photograph with Obama in 2012. He used some of his money to pay for friends to attend fundraising events, but said he didn’t know any of this was illegal, according to The Associated Press.
Michele said he felt “betrayed” by his advisers and employees, blaming them for bad advice on how to handle his money and the legalities surrounding his investments, according to the Associated Press.