Fugees Canceled Tour as Pras Michel Faced Jail for Malaysian Money Laundering Scheme: Report

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The post Fugees Canceled Tour as Pras Michel Faced Jail for Malaysian Money Laundering Scheme: Report appeared first on Consequence.

In 2021, Fugees announced a reunion tour that they canceled four months later, with the group citing safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a report from Puck.News suggests that the real reason had to do with member Pras Michel’s indictment in the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, which the US Department of Justice has called the “largest kleptocracy case to date.”

Michel faces long-term imprisonment for his work with Jho Low, the fugitive businessman who has been accused of moving $4.5 billion from 1MDB into his personal accounts. Michel allegedly worked on his behalf, intentionally failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and attempting to influence two different presidential administrations — by pouring in millions of dollars to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign through straw donors, and by lobbying Donald Trump to send Chinese dissident Guo Wengui back to China.

According to Puck.News, Michel was paid at least $8 million for his services, with a promise of another $75 million if he could successfully halt a DOJ investigation into 1MDB. The Justice Department allegedly told Michel he would not be allowed to leave the country months before Fugees announced their reunion tour, which included stops in France, London, Nigeria, and Ghana. Reportedly, “Fugees tour was eventually postponed after quiet negotiations over his bail conditions broke down.”

Michel purportedly rejected a deal that would have let him plead guilty to obstruction of justice and a lesser violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He would have spent up to 16 months in prison, and under the terms of the agreement, the government would have returned a few million of the approximately $40 million it seized from Michel’s accounts, believing the money came from Low and rightfully belonged to Malaysia.

Michel is demanding all of the seized money back, and is expected to appear in a Washington DC court on November 4th. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

He’s being represented by attorney David Kenner, who famously helped Snoop Dogg beat his 1996 murder trial, and who is now 80 years old. “This case is following the trajectory of so many before it, where a case with multiple defendants features a lone black artist,” Kenner’s team wrote in a dismissal motion filed earlier this month. “In this case, it works like this: the artist, who speaks for the poor and marginalized and who gives back to such communities in enormous ways, is the last man standing….”

To make this argument, the lawyers pointed to a different case involving casino magnate Steve Wynn, who has been accused of working for the Chinese government to protect his business interests, but without realizing he violated the law. Wynn faced lesser legal charges. In contrast, the DOJ claims Michel committed “willful” violations.

The Justice Department says Michel signed a contract, and in the process he “volunteered as a willing shill for a foreign principal and foreign government and determined with his co-conspirators not to register in order to make the back-channel lobbying more effective and increase the chance of earning the outsize contingent success fee.”

For now, Michel will have to wait to make his case in court. And for the foreseeable future, when it comes to a Fugees reunion tour, the answer to the group’s famous question, “Ready or Not” will continue to be “Not.”

Fugees Canceled Tour as Pras Michel Faced Jail for Malaysian Money Laundering Scheme: Report
Wren Graves

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