Months after the Fugees canceled their much-anticipated reunion tour, a new report suggests it was Pras Michel’s legal issues — and not Covid-related difficulties — that grounded the trek.
In 2019, Michel pleaded not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and falsifying records stemming from the rapper’s alleged role in a Malaysian wealth fund’s campaign finance violations.
Michel was among the people that Justice Department said was tied to Jho Low and 1MDB, a wealth fund tasked with promoting economic development in Malaysia; Low is accused of stealing from the $4.5 billion “slush fund,” with Michel allegedly paid at least $8 million (and as much as $40 million) for his role in assisting Low.
In June 2021, Michel was hit with additional charges in connection to his attempt to lobby the Trump administration to drop its investigation into Low and the 1MDB fund, as well as lobbying for the Justice Department to return dissident billionaire Guo Wengui back to China.
Even with the federal charges against Michel, the Fugees still announced an international reunion tour in Sept. 2021, just days before the trio of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Michel staged a brief comeback show at a Global Citizen event in New York. However, the tour was postponed and ultimately canceled, claiming the “continued Covid pandemic has made touring conditions difficult.”
However, the pandemic wasn’t the only thing making touring conditions difficult: According to Puck, the Justice Department would not permit Michel to embark on an international tour — including planned gigs in London and Paris — due to his pending federal trial, which is slated to begin in November.
Puck adds that Michel rejected a plea deal that would have seen the rapper plead guilty to an obstruction of justice charge, and with it a 16-month prison sentence and financial retribution to Malaysia over the money he received from the 1MDB fund. Michel, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, will go to trial in Washington, D.C., beginning Nov. 4.
While Michel’s legal issues scuttled the trio’s plans, Wyclef and Hill did deliver a surprise duo performance of Fugees hits at New Orleans’ Essence Festival in July.