Former Fugees rapper Prakazrel 'Pras' Michel and wealthy Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, popularly known as Jho Low, have been charged with conspiring to steer illegal foreign campaign funds into the 2012 presidential election.
According to the unsealed indictment from the US Justice Department, between June 2012 and November 2012, Low directed the transfer of approximately US$21.6 million (NZ$32.76m) from foreign entities and accounts to Michel to be funnelled into the US election while disguising it as legitimate campaign contributions.
Under federal election law, it is a crime for foreign nationals to make political contributions in US federal, state or local elections.
Low, who remains at large, faces separate criminal charges in the US in connection with a multibillion-dollar scandal at Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Low has been identified by Malaysian and US investigators as a central figure in the alleged theft of about US$4.5 billion (NZ$6.82 billion) from 1MDB.
In the election funding case, Michel appeared in a federal court in Washington DC, for his arraignment.
CNN reported Michel pleaded not guilty to the charges and was allowed to return to his homes in Florida and California as he awaits his trial.
Michel and Low were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the US government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions.
Michel also was charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.
The indictment did not reveal the identity of the presidential candidate. However, Michel was an avid supporter of former Democratic president Barack Obama, and federal election records show he contributed money to political committees that supported Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and other Democratic committees.