According to Bloomberg, the Justice Department have pursued charges against several people tied to 1MDB, a wealth fund tasked with promoting economic development in Malaysia, over the fund’s contributions to then-President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
Michel – facing one charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States government and making a false statement and two counts of falsifying records – is accused of steering 1MDB contributions totaling $1 million to the Obama campaign without disclosing their foreign origin.
Jho Low, an adviser to Malaysia’s then-prime minister Najib Razak and the alleged mastermind of 1MDB’s “slush fund,” reportedly met Michel at one of the star-studded parties Low hosted in Los Angeles.
“According to the indictment, between June 2012 and November 2012, Low directed the transfer of approximately $21,600,000 from foreign entities and accounts to Michel for the purpose of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money,” the Justice Department said.
“To facilitate the excessive contributions and conceal their true source, Michel paid approximately $865,000 of the money received from Low to about 20 straw donors, or conduits, so that the straw donors could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee. In addition, Michel personally directed more than $1 million of the money received from Low to an independent expenditure committee also involved in the presidential election in 2012.”
“Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions. Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury,” the rapper’s lawyer Barry Pollack said in a statement (via CNN).
A spokesperson for Low said in a statement, “Mr. Low is innocent — and he is presumed innocent under U.S. law. The allegations against Mr. Low have no basis in fact: Mr. Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the U.S. and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities.”
Michel is due back in court on May 16th. After entering his plea, Michel was released and given permission to take residence in either of California or Florida home. It’s unclear how much prison time Michel could face if found guilty on the charges.