U.S. Entertainer Convicted of Engaging in Foreign Influence Campaign
Rapper, Businessman Found Guilty in Back-Channel Lobbying Campaign to Drop 1MDB Investigation and Remove Chinese National from United States, and Conspiring to Make and Conceal Foreign Contributions During 2012 U.S. Presidential Election
A federal jury convicted a U.S. entertainer and businessman today for orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign beginning in or about 2017 to influence the then-administration of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice to drop the investigation of Jho Low and others for embezzlement and other offenses in connection with the international strategic and development company known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and to send a Chinese national back to China, as well as conspiring to make and conceal foreign and conduit campaign contributions during the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, 50, of Coconut Creek, Florida, conspired with Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, of Malaysia; Elliott Broidy; Nickie Lum Davis; George Higginbotham; and others to engage in undisclosed lobbying campaigns at the direction of Low and the Vice Minister of Public Security for the People’s Republic of China, respectively, to have the 1MDB embezzlement investigation and forfeiture proceedings involving Low and others dropped and to have a Chinese national sent back to China.
“As proven at trial, the defendant engaged in an extensive conspiracy to use millions of dollars in foreign funds to engage in illegal back-channel lobbying and make unlawful campaign contributions,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s verdict demonstrates that anyone who engages in unlawful foreign-sponsored efforts to influence American officials, our elections, or the criminal justice system will be brought to justice.”
“Mr. Michel sought to use his celebrity and access to influence U.S. government officials on behalf of undisclosed foreign interests,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This is an affront to the rule of law, and we will use the full range of tools at our disposal to hold accountable those who would covertly aid foreign actors seeking to interfere with our democratic system of government.”
A federal jury convicted a U.S. entertainer and businessman today for orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign beginning in or about 2017 to influence the then-administration of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice to drop the investigation of Jho Low and...