Former Fugees rapper Pras Michel pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy, making a false statement, and two counts of falsifying records, in a case that relates to an alleged fraud scheme originating in Malaysia. Michel is charged in connection to Jho Low, who stands accused of looting a wealth fund, 1MDB, that was meant to boost economic development in Malaysia. Low has also been hit with additional charges, prosecutors said Friday. According to court documents, Low transferred $21.6 million to Michel, who then spread approximately $865,000 among straw donors who gave the money to a presidential fundraising committee for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Authorities charge that the foreign origin of the funds was not disclosed. It is illegal for international parties to finance U.S. elections.
The 1MDB Malaysian money laundering and bribery investigation is considered one of the biggest financial fraud cases of all time. “Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions,” his attorney Barry Pollack said. “Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury.” Michel was released and is living at home while he awaits trial. His next court appearance is May 16.