Pras has finally spoken out in his first interview since facing 22 years in federal prison after being investigated for money laundering and being accused of a spy for the Chinese government.
The Fugees rapper spoke to Rolling Stone in a piece published Sunday, which breaks down how Pras ended up becoming the face of a decade-long investigation involving two foreign nationals who allegedly attempted to influence the U.S. government.
Fugees Rapper Pras Accused Of Being An Agent For Chinese Government, With Links To Malaysian Fugitive
The first of those foreign nationals is a man known as Jho Low, a Malaysian who stole $4.5 billion dollars from his country’s sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.
Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, reportedly used the stolen money to fund his efforts to buy his way into American celebrity circles, which included acts like investing $100 million in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf Of Wall Street.
Low allegedly funded the film in an effort to befriend the film’s star, Leonardo DiCaprio.
Pras and Low’s relationship initially consisted of attending celebrity parties together. On New Year’s Even in 2012, the duo turned a private 50-seater plane into a mid-air nightclub as they shuttled their high-profile friends to Sydney, Australia.
At a club in 2006, Pras met a young Malaysian billionaire who spent millions on booze in that single night. That was the beginning of a wild relationship.
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) March 12, 2023
They then made a return flight back to the United States to celebrate New Year’s a second time thanks to the time difference.
“When we exited Australia, the stamp was 2013,” Pras said. “When I came back into the States, the stamp was 2012.”
However, Low reportedly had designs of bribing the U.S. government as he had done with the Malaysian government amongst others, and used Pras’ relationship with Barack Obama as a means to do so.
A Timeline Of Pras’ Reported Crimes And Sweetheart Plea Deal Which He Turned Down
The “Ghetto Superstar” rapper’s first crime came after donating over $1.1 million of Low’s money into Obama’s 2012 campaign, while making it seem as if the funds had come from multiple donors.
Pras was indicted in 2019 on four criminal counts for the illegal political contributions, but prosecutors offered him a plea deal that would not only waive the charges against him, but also would lead to the return of upwards of $74 million that had been seized by the government from his bank accounts, according to the Rolling Stone.
However Pras ultimately turn down the plea deal, maintaining he hadn’t done anything wrong. Now, his attorneys are claiming he’s turned into a scapegoat for Low, who has since fled the country and therefore can’t be prosecuted.
Among the other people named in the federal indictment are two Goldman Sachs bankers who helped Low move his money, as well as Frank White, Jr., the former chairman of President Obama’s reelection campaign.
The three have reportedly agreed to testify against Pras in a trial set to begin on March 27.
A 4-page Bloomberg intriguing investigative story about how Jho Low used the singer Pras Michel for lobbying work to kill 1MDB investigations and extradite dissidents wanted by China Government in the Edge Weekly. Not going to give the entire screenshot except few bits. pic.twitter.com/GqpV4KEZfw
— FreeMalaysian (@FreeMsian) March 11, 2023
For turning down the deal, Pras received the following:
“A superseding indictment that added eight more criminal charges, including bank fraud, concealment of material facts, witness tampering, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and working as an unregistered agent of the People’s Republic of China.”
Two of the most recent charges stem from Low using the rapper to get in with someone from the Trump administration who could possibly end the embezzlement investigation.
Rapper’s Foray Into Politics Lands Him In Hot Water: “I… Was Just Dabbling,” Pras Says
Meanwhile, Pras ended up meeting with China’s Vice Minister of Public Security Sun Lijun, who had designs of getting the U.S. government to hand over a fugitive billionaire to Chinese authorities, the outlet reports.
“I was one of those people who was just dabbling. I never thought I would be full time into politics,” Pras told Rolling Stone of his ordeal. “I realized politics is not for me. The problem with politics is this: It’s that the people within politics, they’re dirtier than the people who are not in politics.
— The Moguldom Nation (@Moguldom) March 7, 2023
“What benefit would I get trying to break laws? It’s not worth it to me,” he added after explaining that, throughout this whole ordeal he checked in with his legal council to make sure he wouldn’t be getting himself into trouble. “I’m like a pariah now. I’ve got friends who won’t talk to me because they think there’s a satellite in orbit listening to them.”
Pras Denies Legal Problems Led To Cancellation Of Fugees 2022 Reunion Tour
Pras shrugged off accusations that the Fugees 2022 reunion tour was cancelled due to his legal issues, and added that unrelated internal problems within the group were to blame for the cancellation.
“It got a bit complicated. That’s life. But I think now we cordial,” he explained. “’Clef and I speak, here and there. He texts me, he calls me. Lauryn and I, we cool. You know, it’s all right. But obviously, dealing with what I’m dealing with, I’ve just been kind of, like, focusing on that, you know what I mean?”
Pras took to Instagram after the Rolling Stone piece went live Sunday, posting a screenshot of a TMZ article with the headline “Pras May Call Obama, Trump As Witnesses in Finance Conspiracy Case,” and accompanied the post with a portion of Lady Antebellum’s song “Need You Now.”