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Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel has been found guilty of all 10 criminal conspiracy charges he was facing in a Washington DC federal court.
Charges the Fugees member has been convicted of include acting as an unregistered foreign agent of China, witness tampering, and conspiring to defraud the United States government and make illegal political campaign contributions.
The 50-year-old, who pleaded not guilty to all counts, now faces years in prison, reports the BBC.
Michel’s lawyer David Kenner has filed a motion for a mistrial, saying: “This is not over. I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”
Prosecutors accused Michel of accepting multi-million dollar payments to further the interests of China and assist Malaysian billionaire Jho Low in gaining political connections in the US and attempting to influence the Obama and Trump administrations.
Michel testified that a $20 million payment from Low was to help him get a photo with Barack Obama, with Michel claiming to act as a “celebrity surrogate” to assist Low in gaining access to political fundraisers his reputation for partying would otherwise block him from.
Low is wanted by the US government and currently a fugitive at large, for charges relating to this case and the 1MDB scandal.
Part of the case brought against Michel involved charges of illegally lobbying Trump’s administration to drop an ongoing investigation into Low and the activity of his 1MDB investment company, and to deport Guo Wengui, a dubious self-proclaimed Beijing dissident who is wanted in his home nation on fraud charges.
In his defence, Michel told the court that he voluntarily met with FBI agents in regards to China’s efforts to extradite Guo Wengui.
Wengui himself is at the centre of a $1 billion fraud conspiracy, and has been living in the US in self-exile since around 2015 with close links to Trumpist Republicans such as Steve Bannon.
Leonardo DiCaprio also testified at Michel’s court case. The Hollywood actor has a close relationship with Low, who helped finance The Wolf Of Wall Street film.
In a statement sent to Mixmag. Michel’s lawyer David Kenner said: “We are of course very disappointed, but I am very confident in the ultimate outcome of this case. Her honor gave us a briefing schedule that will allow us to brief a number of motions that I made during the course of this trial. That briefing schedule extends out into July. Her honor pointed out today that after those decisions are made, based on the briefs, she will determine whether it is still necessary to move to a sentencing hearing.
“If we do move to a sentencing hearing, I remain very confident that we will, with certainty, appeal this case. This is not over. I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”
In response to a question from Reuters, he added: “I filed motions for mistrial and other motions during the course of the trial. It is Her Honor’s practice take those under submission and to rule on them after all of the evidence is in. I remain enormously confident that this case is not over and that we will ultimately prevail.”
In September 2021, Fugees announced that they would reunite for a world tour. The tour was cancelled in early 2022 with Michel’s legal battle given as a reason for its cancellation.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag’s Editor & Digital Director, follow him on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins