Hip-hop star Brass Michel, a former member of The Fugees, was convicted Wednesday in Washington for his role in an illegal influence campaign led by a Malaysian financier at the center of a massive corruption scandal.
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The 50-year-old Haitian-American artist has been found guilty of all the charges for which he was tried, after a highly publicized several-week trial that notably saw actor Leonardo DiCaprio offer testimony.
“Michael played a key role in a vast conspiracy to influence senior government officials,” said Harry Ledesque, a representative for the Department of Justice.
Between 2012 and 2017, the hip-hop star had received around $100 million from Malaysian Low Taek Jho, who is considered to be the mastermind behind the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB scandal.
According to US authorities, this large sum could have been used in part for contributions to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2012. Donations from abroad are prohibited in the US, and they could have been made by outside candidates and companies.
Notably, Mr. Brass was found guilty of conspiracy, forgery, use of forgery, and acting as a hidden agent for a foreign government, the department said, offenses for which he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. In a press release.
Brass Michel was also convicted of illegal lobbying in 2017 on behalf of China with the Donald Trump administration to demand the repatriation of billionaire Chinese dissident Guo Wengui.
Accused of defrauding thousands of investors to enrich himself, Guo Wengui was arrested in March in New York for financial fraud.
Mr. Low, the Malaysian businessman at the center of this vast scandal, was charged in 2018 with corruption and money laundering linked to the looting of the 1MDB fund, supposedly contributing to Malaysia’s economic development. Runaway, may now be in China.
The financier is particularly accused, along with other persons, of using the money of this fund to buy luxury residences, yachts or even works of art and to surround himself with stars of music in cinema, in particular by financing the movie “The Wolf”. of Wall Street”, a 2013 feature film that won Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar.
Recounting during the trial to the jury the dissolved parties that Mr. Low funded, the actor said he remembers the latter emphasizing that “he wanted to make a big donation to the Democratic Party,” noting, “20 to 30 million dollars. I said + wow, that’s a lot of money…”
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