One of the founding members of the hip-hop group The Fugees has been accused in connection with a labyrinthine scheme to launder money from corrupt Malaysian officials into the United States.
According to ABC News, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, musician and Fugees co-founder, and George Higginbotham, a former member of the Department of Justice, allegedly took part in a conspiracy to influence Department of Justice investigations into Malaysian financier Jho Low. According to court documents prosecutors produced Friday, the DOJ has charged Low for attempted bribery of overseas officials to curb investigations into the laundering of tens of millions of dollars into the country from the company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Prosecutors claim that Low sought out a “longtime political fundraiser” to lobby the American government for him, with the goal of getting the DOJ to back off efforts to investigate 1MDB. The documents allege that Michel’s role was to help hide links between this lobbying campaign and Low, and he apparently recruited Higginbotham to aid him in this effort.
It gets worse; after the DOJ refused to back off investigations into 1MBD, Low – along with Higginbotham and Michel’s help – sought to get the unnamed fundraiser to push for the US government to deport an unnamed foreign national critical of his home government. Higginbotham funneled tens of millions of dollars through various shell companies to pay Michel for his services, and forged fake documents to make the payments seem legitimate.
While Higginbotham has been charged with one felony count of “conspiracy to make false statements”, no charges have been publicly filed against Michel as of yet. However, the investigation is “ongoing,” the Justice Department notes.