Ex-fugees member denies wrongdoing in alleged attempt to sidetrack Malaysian corruption probe
A PROMINENT rapper is disputing that he did anything wrong amid United States Justice Department allegations that he aided efforts to end its investigation of Malaysian government corruption, saying his name is being “dragged through the mud.”
Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, who rose to fame in the 1990s as a member of the hip-hop group Fugees, denied “any allegations levelled against” him in the case and noted he was not facing any criminal charges. He issued the statement late Tuesday.
The Justice Department last week alleged in a civil forfeiture complaint that Michel helped move money to fund a lobbying campaign, which unsuccessfully tried to shut down the ongoing probe into embezzlement and bribery surrounding a Malaysian state development fund.
“I have never conspired to commit any crime, nor defraud any organisation, in this case or otherwise,” Michel said in a statement. “It is a shame that anyone’s name should be dragged through the mud like this, particularly another Black man who uses his voice and influence to effect change.”
The accusations against Michel became public last week, when the Justice Department announced that a former employee – George Higginbotham, who worked as a senior congressional affairs specialist – pleaded guilty to illicitly facilitating the transfer of tens of millions of dollars into the US to finance the lobbying effort.
In a related forfeiture complaint seeking nearly US$74 million (K113.9 billion), prosecutors alleged that Michel worked with Higginbotham to open accounts at US financial institutions to finance the campaign, and that Michel disbursed money to those involved in a lobbying effort.
Nicole Navas, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said “The complaint speaks for itself.”
– The Washington Post