Artist News Legal

Pras found guilty of political conspiracy

By | Published on Thursday 27 April 2023


Fugees member Pras Michel has been found guilty of conspiring with Malaysian billionaire Jho Low to instigate unlawful foreign lobbying campaigns that sought to influence the governments of two US Presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

The musician was convicted in a Washington court yesterday for campaign finance violations, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, witness tampering and lying to banks. Although he plans to appeal, the conviction could result in years of prison time.

The whole thing relates to what is known as the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia. Back in 2015, Malaysia’s then President Najib Razak was accused of involvement in a scam to siphon off $3.5 billion from a state-owned investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad – or 1MDB.

It was alleged that the scam was orchestrated by Low – who has various links with the entertainment industry, including involvement in the 2012 Sony-led acquisition of EMI Music Publishing.

Facing criminal charges in both Malaysia and the US, Low was seemingly keen for the American government to be lobbied as officials there continued with their investigations. And that’s where Michel’s involvement began. He was initially charged in relation to that involvement in 2021.

During the recent court case, prosecutor Nicole Lockhart told jurors that Michel had been “looking for other ways to be paid” after his music career slowed down, and was therefore open to taking money from Low in return for using his contacts to get to American politicians and officials.

Michel himself – while acknowledging that he had received payments from Low – argued that he had seen it as basically “free money”. He then blamed various advisors who he said had given him bad advice when it came to accepting and using that money.

According to the BBC, Michel’s lawyer David Kenner confirmed plans to appeal, stating: “This is not over. I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter”.