Additional charges have been lodged against Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who is already accused of being involved in a money-laundering scheme related to the 1MDB wealth fund.
Low, along with Haitian-American rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, have been indicted of conspiracy to make illegal contributions to the 2012 reelection campaign of former US President Barack Obama; contributing to US election campaigns is illegal for foreign nationals.
US prosecutors claimed in an indictment on Friday that Low transferred $21.6 million to Michel “for the purpose of funnelling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election”.
Michel, for his part, allegedly paid nearly $865,000 to about 20 “straw donors” to help them make donations in their names to a presidential fundraising committee.
“The object of the conspiracy was for Michel and Jho Low to gain access to, and potential influence with, Candidate A and his administration, by secretly funnelling foreign money from Jho Low through Michel. To gain further access to and influence with Candidate A and his administration, Jho Low attended or arranged for his associates to attend events at the White House with Candidate A”, the indictment said.
Although the presidential candidate receiving the donations was only referred to as “Candidate A”, it has been widely reported that Barack Obama was the recipient. The former US president has reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
The additional accusations against Low come after Malaysia's Attorney General Tommy Thomas announced that Washington had partly returned and will be returning considerable amount of funds recovered from seized assets related to the 1MDB fund.
Since the creation of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund in 2009, an array of Malaysian officials, including former Prime Minister Nijab Razak, have been suspected of laundering a total of $4.5 billion from fund-related projects and activity.