American rapper Prakazrel Michel has been accused of conspiring with financier Jho Low to influence the Obama and Trump administrations.
Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel said he received $20 million from Malaysian financier Jho Low to help him take a photo with former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Michelle faces criminal conspiracy, foreign lobbying and campaign finance charges for allegedly conspiring with Low to try to influence the administrations of Obama and former President Donald Trump.
Testifying in his defense Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Grammy winner said Jho Low, now a fugitive accused of embezzling $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, had not directed him to use the money for Campaign donation photo.
Michelle said he used some of the money to help three friends attend a fundraiser for Obama that raised $40,000 a plate. Michelle said he had no idea it was inappropriate to do so.
“When you receive money from Jho Low, you use it to make political contributions,” U.S. Attorney John Keller said in a Washington courtroom.
“No,” Michelle replied, unexpectedly testifying in court. “Once he gives me the money, I can decide how to spend it because it’s my money.”
He described Low’s funding as “free money”.
It is illegal for foreigners to contribute to U.S. election campaigns, as well as to make campaign contributions to others.
Michelle is accused of participating in three schemes with Low, for which prosecutors say he was paid millions of dollars.
First, prosecutors allege Michelle violated federal election law by funneling roughly $2 million from Low into Obama’s 2012 campaign coffers and using straw donors to conceal the source of the funds.
Michelle is also accused of trying to persuade the Trump-era Justice Department to drop its civil and criminal investigations into Low over the 1MDB scandal, and of trying to lobby the U.S. on behalf of Beijing to send Chinese businessman Guo Wengui to China.