These days, it seems like rappers are always in some sort of legal trouble, much of it pertaining to their lyrics if not accusations of legitimate criminal activity. But Pras Michael, 1/3 of ’90s icons Fugees, is currently facing trial for charges that might very well be completely unprecedented in the rap business. A new report from Puck.News via Consequence detailing the case seems to also suggest that Michel’s indictment was actually one of the key reasons behind the cancelation of the trio’s 2021 reunion tour — which they’d originally attributed to logistical issues caused by COVID-19.
As reported in 2019, Pras was indicted on charges of conspiracy, making a false statement, and two counts of falsifying records after making contributions to Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign on behalf of Malaysian businessman, Jho Low. Low — who is currently a fugitive from his own home government — is notorious for stealing $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad sovereign wealth fund, using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included partying with celebrities like Michel, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Paris Hilton and financing Hollywood films such as The Wolf Of Street.
Authorities allege that Pras set up bank accounts to help Low move money into the States in order to influence officials overseeing the criminal investigation into Low’s misuse of 1MDB funds. According to Puck.News, the Justice Department told Pras not to leave the country, which effectively put the kibosh on the Fugees’ plans for a world tour. Pras’ trial is set for November 4 in Washington, DC, and his defense — led by David Kenner, who successfully defended Snoop Dogg from a murder charge in 1996 — will argue that the rapper has been unfairly singled out while others are being let off the hook.
He also maintains that his old entertainment lawyer, whom he’d consulted on the involved business dealings, was also working for the Department of Justice at the time. That old lawyer, George Higginbotham, is now a witness in the trial after being indicted himself, pleading guilty to a lesser charge, and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Pras’ defense now argues that because Higginbotham did not advise Pras to register as a foreign agent, despite consulting on these dealings, the case should be dismissed.
If the government can prove that Pras really did work for Low to influence the 1MDB investigation, and the jury doesn’t eat his excuse that his DOJ-employed legal counsel should have advised him to register as a foreign agent, he could face up to 20 years in prison.