Pras Michél, a member of the groundbreaking hip-hop group Fugees, is facing a slew of charges for his role in an alleged multimillion-dollar financial conspiracy. Now, just weeks out from his trial, he’s denying wrongdoing in a new Bloomberg Businessweek cover. “Pras’s motivation was to try to assist the United States,” his attorney, David Kenner, said of Michél’s dealings with Jho Low. Low is a Malaysian national at the center of the conspiracy, who’d been close to celebrities and at one point financed The Wolf of Wall Street. Michél reportedly first met Low in 2006 and got closer with him in 2011. Then Low allegedly began funneling money through Michél, including money to donate to the 2012 Obama campaign, which is illegal for foreign nationals. At the same time, Low had allegedly been embezzling money from the Malaysian fund 1MDB, and officials later seized $95 million from Michél. Being tied up in the alleged conspiracy led Michél to befriend influential Republicans to lobby the Trump administration and to meet with high-powered Chinese officials, per Businessweek.
Michél had been offered a deal to plea guilty to a felony after many of the others involved in the conspiracy took deals, but turned it down. “One of the most significant is that it would make him a felon by admitting to willful acts he didn’t believe were true,” Kenner told Businessweek. Now, Michél is facing ten charges, including one for not registering as an agent of a foreign government, which carries up to a ten-year sentence. Michél’s trial begins March 27, with his defense attempting to call both Barack Obama and Donald Trump as witnesses, and prosecutors hoping to call Leonardo DiCaprio, among others.