Ex-fugees mem­ber de­nies wrong­do­ing in al­leged at­tempt to side­track Malaysian cor­rup­tion probe

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

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

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