Pras Named In Federal Money Laundering Scheme Involving Malaysian Fugitive
Federal authorities accuse Pras of assisting a former Justice Department official in funneling tens of millions of dollars from overseas into the U.S. to assist a Malaysian fugitive in a crazy international laundering scheme, ABC News reports.
The former Fugees member, whose birth name is Prakazrel "Pras" Michel, was named in a forfeiture action filed by the Department Of Justice in Washington D.C. federal court Friday (Nov. 30) seeking more than $73 million.
He has not been charged in the investigation. However, prosecutors allege that the Grammy Award winner worked with George Higginbotham, an ex-DOJ Senior Congressional Affairs Specialist charged in the case last month.
In court Friday (Nov. 30), Higginbotham pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make false statements to a bank. Malaysian financier, Jho Low, is also charged with allegedly participating in the scheme, which includes attempting to bribe the DOJ to sway the investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD) money scheme involving the misuse of more $4.5 billion, according to ABC News. Low remains on the run from authorities.
Higginbotham was employed at the DOJ from 2016 to 2018. In accordance with his plea deal, Higginbotham admitted that he funneled tens of millions of dollars from foreign accounts to “finance a lobbying campaign to resolve civil and criminal matters related to the Department of Justice’s investigation of the embezzlement and 1MBD bribery scheme,” the DOJ said in a news release.
Higginbotham also confessed to lying to financial institutions about the “purpose of the funds,” as well as faking multiple loans and consulting documents to trick banks “and other regulators about the source and purpose of the money.”
The investigation is ongoing.