In 2021, Fugees announced a reunion tour that they canceled four months later, with the group citing safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a report from Puck.News suggests that the real reason had to do with member Pras Michel’s indictment in the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, which the US Department of Justice has called the “largest kleptocracy case to date.”
Michel faces long-term imprisonment for his work with Jho Low, the fugitive businessman who has been accused of moving $4.5 billion from 1MDB into his personal accounts. Michel allegedly worked on his behalf, intentionally failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and attempting to influence two different presidential administrations — by pouring in millions of dollars to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign through straw donors, and by lobbying Donald Trump to send Chinese dissident Guo Wengui back to China.
According to Puck.News, Michel was paid at least $8 million for his services, with a promise of another $75 million if he could successfully halt a DOJ investigation into 1MDB. The Justice Department allegedly told Michel he would not be allowed to leave the country months before Fugees announced their reunion tour, which included stops in France, London, Nigeria, and Ghana. Reportedly, “Fugees tour was eventually postponed after quiet negotiations over his bail conditions broke down.”
Michel purportedly rejected a deal that would have let him plead guilty to obstruction of justice and a lesser violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He would have spent up to 16 months in prison, and under the terms of the agreement, the government would have returned a few million of the approximately $40 million it seized from Michel’s accounts, believing the money came from Low and rightfully belonged to Malaysia.