The long wild arm of 1MDB: U.S. musician fights related charges


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New report details surreal scenes, charges involving former Fugees singer

Were you captivated by the jaw-dropping 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal that began to break in 2015? Wild stories of luxury spending, celebrity courting, Hollywood financing, and more poured out over time. And last week, Bloomberg published a long feature diving into 1MDB-related allegations against American musician Pras Michél of the Fugees.

Michél will stand trial later this month on charges related to campaign-finance violations and foreign-agent and witness-tampering allegations. All of which have some connection to the 1MDB money-laundering and corruption scandal. Adding to the strangeness, Michél’s defense lawyers seek to force former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump to testify.

Infamous Jho Low a key 1MDB link to Michél

Bloomberg’s recent report goes far beyond the headlines. It describes how Michél, an unlikely player in the 1MDB fallout, got himself into these surreal situations in the first place. The Bloomberg report—a fascinating read—describes how Michél connected with the infamous 1MDB fraudster Jho Low during the latter’s attempts to cultivate relationships with American celebrities and politicians. Jho Low famously splashed vast amounts of cash and gifts in New York and California.

The 1MDB scandal itself revealed that Malaysia’s then Prime Minister, Najib Razak, allegedly embezzled hundreds of millions or more from a state development fund in what the U.S. Justice Department described as one of the largest kleptocracy scandals ever. Najib Razak’s relatives and friends, led by Jho Low, helped facilitate the embezzlement and money laundering with wildly extravagant purchases, influence peddling, and luxury lifestyles around the globe.

That’s where Pras Michél appears. After his ‘90s rap career, Michél worked to become an influential businessman and political donor. But by 2017 his lucrative and questionable dealings with Jho Low made life complicated. Via Low, he ran afoul of a foreign power, the U.S. government, and the FBI.

Check out the Bloomberg details and keep an eye out for what happens at trial later this month. Like many of the 1MDB details, a lot of this reads like a fantastical Hollywood script. You might enjoy it in a movie theater, but you wouldn’t believe it in real life. That, in a nutshell, is the magnitude of the financial crime of the 1MBD fiasco.


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