In an indictment last year, Low and Michel were not charged but were identifiable as co-conspirators trying to influence the Trump administration as the Justice Department investigated the 1MDB scandal.
Sunday 12, May 2019
(Bloomberg) --US prosecutors have brought additional charges against Jho Low, the Malaysian national accused of looting the 1MDB wealth fund, for campaign-finance violations related to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election effort.
According to an indictment unsealed in Washington, Low transferred $21.6 million to Pras Michel, a musician and film producer, who spread approximately $865,000 among 20 people. These straw donors, in turn, gave the cash to a presidential fundraising committee without indicating it had come from a foreign source.
Additionally, prosecutors said that Michel also sent more than $1 million to an independent election committee.
The charges, against both men, show a wide-ranging effort by the Malaysian financier to win influence in the US.
Now, the Trump Justice Department says Low’s influence-buying goes back to the previous administration.
The indictment state that during Obama’s re-election campaign, Michel and Jho Low’s father attended a fundraiser in Washington DC and sat on each side of Obama.
The newest charges grew out of the Justice Department’s investigation into fraud and corruption at 1MDB.
According to US prosecutors and other authorities around the world, meant to promote economic development in Malaysia, the 1MDB fund was instead used as a massive slush fund by Low, an adviser to Malaysia’s then-prime minister Najib Razak.
Low was previously charged in the US with conspiring to bribe foreign officials and launder money. In Malaysia, he has been charged with receiving more than $1 billion from the state fund in 2009 and 2011, and with multiple counts of money laundering and currently, Low’s whereabouts are unknown.
The indictment describes efforts by Jho Low to use Michel to get access to Obama at two-big ticket fundraising events during the 2012 re-election campaign.