Former rapper charged in campaign finance conspiracy case

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Prakazrel "Pras" Michel, formally of famed rap group Fugees, recently pleaded not guilty, after being charged with violating campaign-finances related to President Barack Obama's 2012 election.

The charges, as described, are an outgrowth of a sprawling Justice Department investigation into fraud and corruption at 1MDB, a wealth fund that was meant to promote economic development in Malaysia. The charges brought against Michel and Jho Low are part of an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department, into the fraudulent activity behind 1MDB.

The indictment did not reveal the identity of the presidential candidate.

Between June 2012 and November 2012, Low, who is still at large, directed the transfer of $21.6 million from "foreign entities and accounts" to Michel so he could funnel "significant" funds into the presidential election as legitimate contributions, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in the release.

"The object of the conspiracy was for Michel and Jho Low to gain access to, and potential influence with, Candidate A and his administration, by secretly funneling foreign money from Jho Low through Michel", the indictment said.

In total, Michel is being charged with one count conspiracy, two counts of falsifying records and one count of making a false statement.

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But it has been widely reported and it was clear from the indictment that it was Obama. The Justice Department a year ago announced charges against Low and two former Goldman Sachs bankers in a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered money from the fund, created to spur economic development projects in that country.

The case lays out in detail the alleged violations of campaign laws that prohibit foreign donors from contributing to American political campaigns and forbid Americans from serving as conduits to disguise the true source of those donations. "Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury".

The case over campaign financing is not the first time that the Justice Department has linked Michel and Low.

"Mr. Low is innocent - and he is presumed innocent under USA law", said a spokesperson for Low, through his attorneys, who have posted his response on a public website.

Another defendant in the 1MDB case, Ng Chong Hwa, a former Goldman Sachs banker also known as Roger Ng, was extradited to the United States from Malaysia last week and pleaded not guilty in a court in NY on Monday.

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