Pras Michel wants his money back from the U.S. government after it was seized as part of an investigation into an international embezzlement and money-launder scheme.
The U.S. Department of Justice claims the Fugees member received millions of dollars from Malaysian businessman Jho Low in an illegal scheme to launder embezzled Malaysian funds using U.S. banks, the Hollywood Reporter first reported. Pras recently filed a claim to retrieve $37.5 million taken from one of his accounts, a sum he says was taken wrongfully.
“The property is not subject to forfeiture,” reads the claim. “The complaint fails adequately to allege that the property is the proceeds of specified unlawful activity or was used to promote, conduct or facilitate specified unlawful activity and in any event, Mr. Michel is an innocent owner of the property, who did not know of the conduct or circumstances giving rise to forfeiture.”
Since November, Pras’ name has been linked to Low, who’s been accused of being part of a $4.5 billion money laundering scheme, where cash was pilfered from a Malaysian government investment fund. Low is accused of attempting to bribe U.S. officials after an investigation began, and the government is alleging that the funds Pras received were intended to be used to further that scheme.
Federal investigators also say the rapper’s partner in the alleged scheme was former Justice Department official George Higginbotham, who they allege teamed with Pras to transfer some $73 million from the fugitive Malaysian businessman into U.S. bank accounts.
But the New Jersey native said he’s confident that his name will be cleared of any wrongdoing and believes race is playing a part in the investigation.
“I think it’s the fact that I’m Black,” 100 percent,” said Pras in December. “Just the vibe.”
The rapper has maintained his innocence all along.