Here are two things you didn’t think you would see connected: The Fugees and The Wolf of Wall Street.
According to federal prosecutors, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel along with a former Justice Department official named George Higginbotham is being accused of taking part in a conspiracy to funnel millions of dollars through multiple banks accounts they allegedly opened to a Malaysian fugitive.
According to ABC News, prosecutors have stated they did this in the hopes of influencing Justice Department investigations around a company called 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). They also allegedly tried to get help from an unidentified candidate who was running for federal office.
1MDB, a Malaysian strategic development company, has been at the center of a major international scandal that resulted in the arrest of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Razak is accused of using his 1MDB sovereign wealth fund as a “personal piggy bank” to pump money into the development of Red Granite Pictures, which was one of the production companies behind the Wolf of Wall Street.
Higginbotham pleaded guilty last Friday in Washington D.C. to one felony count of “conspiracy to make false statements” to a bank. No charges have been publicly filed against Pras.
“According to the allegations in the complaint, Michel and Higginbotham defrauded U.S. financial institutions and laundered millions of dollars into the United States as part of an effort to improperly influence the Department’s investigation into the massive embezzlement and bribery scheme involving 1MDB,” Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said to NJ.com. “The Criminal Division and our law enforcement partners will do everything we can to trace, seize, and forfeit the proceeds of foreign corruption that flow through the U.S. financial system.”
Asked why Pras has not been publicly charged, a Justice Department spokeswoman told ABC, “It’s an ongoing investigation.”