The U.S. Justice Department announced details Friday of a four-count indictment that accused Michel of conspiring with fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, aka “Jho Low,” to make and conceal foreign campaign contributions to an unidentified 2012 U.S. presidential candidate.
Michel and Low were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions, the indictment said. Michel was additionally charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.
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The feds allege Low directed more than $21.6 million to be transferred from foreign entities to Michel’s accounts “for the purpose of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions,” while concealing the true source of the funds.
The indictment accuses 46-year-old Michel of paying $865,000 of the money received from Low “to about 20 straw donors, or conduits, so that the straw donors could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee.”
Prosecutors also allege Michel personally directed more than $1 million of the money received from Low to an independent expenditure committee involved in the 2012 election.
The hip-hop star pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
“Mr. Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury,” his attorney Barry Pollack told The Associated Press.
Low — who remains at large — was previously indicted in the Eastern District of New York for allegedly conspiring to launder billions of dollars and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That case is still pending.
A spokesperson for Low, contacted Deadline through his attorneys, and issued the following statement:
“Mr. Low is innocent — and he is presumed innocent under U.S. law. The allegations against Mr. Low have no basis in fact: Mr. Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the U.S. and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities,” the statement said.
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