Tim Leissner’s 1MDB scandal grows into political conspiracy involving ex-Fugees rapper Pras

Rick Steves

‘Pras’ was charged by a federal grand jury for running a back-channel campaign to get the Trump administration to drop an investigation of Jho Low and the 1MDB investment company.

The 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund (1MDB) scandal is not over yet. Last week, a District of Columbia grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging American rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and 1MDB ringleader Jho Low with orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign starting in 2017.

The campaign was meant to influence the former Trump Administration and the Justice Department to drop the investigation of Jho Low and others in connection with the 1 MDB and to return a Chinese dissident back to China.

They allegedly conspired to conduct an unregistered lobbying campaign under the direction of Jho Low and Vice Minister of Public Security People’s Republic of China to have the 1MDB embezzlement investigation and forfeiture proceedings involving Jho Low and others closed.

Part of the conspiracy included having a Chinese dissident sent back to China. The dissident has been identified as China critic, Guo Wengui, an ally of Steve Bannon.

‘Pras’ and Low are also being charged with money laundering conspiracy related to the foreign lobbying campaign. They funneled millions of dollars of Low’s money into the U.S. presidential election and concealed the true sources by using rapper ‘Pras’ and approximately 20 straw donors.

Low and ‘Pras’ were accused in 2017 with conspiring to funnel $21.6 million in foreign money to the re-election of former President Obama. In 2018, ‘Pras’ “opened multiple accounts at financial institutions in the United States to maintain money funneled into the United States at Jho Low’s direction.”

Now, ‘Pras’ was charged by a federal grand jury for running a back-channel campaign to get the Trump administration to drop an investigation of Jho Low and the 1MDB investment company.

The political conspiracy involving ex-Fugees Pras aimed to make the 1MDB scandal disappear. Formally known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the Malaysian strategic development firm was at the center of a money-laundering scheme involving Tim Leissner.

Tim Leissner, the former Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia Chairman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to money laundering and FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) violations.

Roger Ng, the managing director of Goldman and head of investment banking in Malaysia is awaiting trial in federal court in New York.

Jho Low, a Malaysian financier, was at the center of the scheme but has not been apprehended. Together with Leissner and Ng, they managed a vast international corruption scheme over a five-year period in which they paid $1.6 billion in bribes to high-level government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.

In exchange, they obtained lucrative underwriting contracts for Goldman Sachs worth approximately $6.5 billion in three bond raises for 1MDB from which Goldman earned over $600 million in fees.

In 2019, Tim Leissner settled with the SEC in a deal that includes a permanent bar from the securities industry. The SEC’s order required Leissner to pay disgorgement of $43.7 million, which will be offset by amounts paid pursuant to a forfeiture order as part of a resolution in a previously instituted parallel criminal action by the United States Department of Justice.

In July 2018, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced it was banning Tim Leissner from re-entering the industry for life in connection with his crimes relating to 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The same year,  Tim Leissner was banned by the Singaporean government for life from participating in any securities industry activity in Singapore as a result of his embroilment in the multi-billion dollar incident at 1MDB, representing the latest action by a government over the alleged crimes surrounding the Malaysian state investment fund.

Leissner quit his Goldman Sachs position in 2016 by the time the FBI swooped in on the scandal involving the Malaysian finance minister.

Read this next

Digital Assets

SEC seeks $5.3 billion fine for Terraform and co-founder Do Kwon

Federal regulators are pursuing a fine of $5.3 billion against Terraform Labs and its co-founder Do Kwon for defrauding investors, following a recent verdict that found them liable for a multi-billion-dollar fraud.

Digital Assets

El Salvador’s Bitcoin wallet hacked by CiberInteligenciaSV

El Salvador’s official Bitcoin wallet, Chivo, has faced another security setback as the hacker group CiberInteligenciaSV released parts of the wallet’s source code on the black hat hacking forum BreachForums.


BlockDAG’s $19.8M Presale & Moon Keynote Teaser Place It Above KANG, SOL, & ARB as the Top Crypto Investment in 2024

Uncover the success behind BlockDAG’s $19.8M presale and learn what’s making it a more compelling investment than KangaMoon, Solana, and Arbitrum.


Revolut to share user interactions data with ad agencies

Fintech giant Revolut is exploring new revenue streams by planning to share customer data with advertising partners.


Zircuit Staking Soars Past $2B TVL In Only 2 Months

Zircuit, a ZK rollup with parallelized circuits and AI-enabled security, today announced that its staking program has soared past $2B in TVL in only 2 months. 

Retail FX

PrimeXBT joins Financial Commission’s membership roster

The Financial Commission, an independent external dispute resolution (EDR) body, today announced the addition of cryptocurrency trading firm PrimeXBT as its latest member effective March 6, 2024.

Digital Assets

Ripple wants to reduce SEC’s $2 billion penalty to $10 million

Ripple Labs has responded to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent demand for $2 billion in penalties, arguing that the amount should be substantially reduced to $10 million. The legal stance was disclosed in a court document filed late Monday.


Analysts Go Bullish On BlockDAG After Its Surge to $0.005 And Unique Developer Platform That Goes Beyond Ethereum & BONK

Discover how BlockDAG’s unique low-code and no-code platforms offer more adaptability than Ethereum’s bull run and BONK’s fluctuating prices.

Tech and Fundamental, Technical Analysis

WTI crude oil Technical Analysis Report 23 April, 2024

WTI crude oil can be expected to rise further toward the next major resistance level 86.00, which has been reversing the price from October.