Conspiracy Trial Begins for Pras Michel of the Fugees, Accused of Acting as an Agent for China

Witnesses could include Leonardo DiCaprio and Rudy Giuliani

Photo: MiamiFilmFestival (Flickr)

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 28, 2023

The trial has begun in the conspiracy case surrounding Fugees member Pras Michel, who has denied acting as an agent of China.

Michel is facing charges — including conspiracy, witness tampering and failing to register as an agent of China — over two incidents. The first concerns enlisting people to attend a fundraising dinner for Barack Obama during his 2012 presidential campaign, and then reimbursing them $40,000 each using foreign money. Some of these ticket-buyers were apparently threatened to discourage them from coming forward.

The second incident involves billionaire Jho Low, and an alleged lobbying campaign to support him as his fraud scheme fell apart. This also concerns helping the Chinese government to recover a dissident living within the US.

According to prosecutors John Keller, Sean Mulryne and Nicole Lockhart [via NPR], "The defendant, Prakazrel Michel, received over $100 million from Jho Low, a foreign fugitive responsible for one of the largest embezzlement schemes in history, to use backchannel influence to convince the then-President of the United States to drop a federal investigation into Low and to agree to the extrajudicial removal of a Chinese exile living in the United States." 

That dissident, Miles Guo, is a Steve Bannon associate who was arrested by the FBI earlier this month over a separate fraud case. Michel asserts that he believed he was acting in the interests of the US. 

Jury selection for Michel's case is underway in Washington, DC. Witnesses could include Leonardo DiCaprio (who starred in 2013's The Wolf of Wall Street, a film partially financed through a company linked to Low) and Rudy Giuliani.

The trial is expected to last weeks. If found guilty, Michel could face decades in prison. One of his lawyers, David Kenner, is also defending Tory Lanez in his case surrounding the shooting of Megan Thee Stallion.

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