Malaysiakini News

Report: DOJ probing if Jho Low paid rap star to support Obama

Published:  |  Modified:

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating if an American rapper donated to Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign after receiving US$20 million (RM81.7million today) from 1MDB-linked financier Low Taek Jho, more commonly known as Jho Low.

This is part of the DOJ’s investigation into 1MDB, the US financial daily The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed yesterday. 

Quoting sources “familiar with the investigation”, the report said that the rapper, Pras Michel, is being investigated on whether there was an agreement between him and Low to support Obama’s re-election.

US federal campaign-finance laws prohibit the donation of money to a candidate on the behalf of another person or company.

The report said it had reviewed documents that showed how Low, through offshore companies, transferred US$20 million to Michel’s two limited-liability companies (LLCs) in 2012.

The money was Low’s “gift to Pras”, according to the documents.

Pras later became known as one of the major donors in Obama’s 2012 “Obama for America” campaign, donating more than US$1.3 million. The campaign saw Obama elected as president for a second term. 

“Over September and October of 2012, he (Michel) donated more than US$1.3 million, including US$1.23 million to a super PAC (political action committee) called Black Men Vote.

“The donation to Black Men Vote was sent by one of the same LLCs (controlled by Michel) that received funds from the offshore companies (linked to Low), the documents show,” said the report.

PACs are organisations formed to raise funds for political candidates.

At the time of these donations, Low was said to have been “seeking to boost (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak’s) profile in the US, as the Southeast Asian nation sought closer investment ties”, said the report.

The report also revealed that Michel had co-founded DuSable Capital Management LLC, together with Frank White Jr.

1MDB was previously revealed to have paid US$69 million to buy DuSable out of a deal to build solar power plants in Malaysia. The project was never completed.

White was previously implicated by DOJ for indirectly receiving US$10 million from funds misappropriated from 1MDB.

Malaysiakini is unable to independently verify the WSJ report.

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