Michel plead not guilty to all charges when he appeared in court.
The BBC reports that “Mr Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, also denies any involvement.”
According to the BBC:
Both men have been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the US government. Mr Michel has been charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record.
Mr Low’s payments were allegedly made during June and November 2012.
Mr Michel reportedly paid $865,000 to around 20 people so that they could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee.
He also allegedly made more than $1m in donations to a political committee in his name.
Court documents claim that they aimed to “gain access” to one of the presidential candidates, named as “Candidate A”
It was common knowledge that Michel was a strong supporter of Democrat Barack Obama, who won the election, buying him a second term.
Michel’s lawyer Barry Pollack stated, “Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to the 2012 campaign contributions. Mr Michel is innocent of these charges and looks forward to having the case heard by a jury.”
A spokesperson for Low explained, “The allegations against Mr Low have no basis in fact. Mr Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the US and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities.”
“Mr Low is facing separate criminal charges in the US in connection with a financial scandal in Malaysia. He is accused of being involved in the alleged theft of around $4.5bn from Malaysia’s investment fund 1MDB,” the BBC reports.
From the Department Of Justice:
According to the indictment, between June 2012 and November 2012, Low directed the transfer of approximately $21,600,000 from foreign entities and accounts to Michel for the purpose of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money. To facilitate the excessive contributions and conceal their true source, Michel paid approximately $865,000 of the money received from Low to about 20 straw donors, or conduits, so that the straw donors could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee. In addition, Michel personally directed more than $1 million of the money received from Low to an independent expenditure committee also involved in the presidential election in 2012.
The indictment also alleges that by funneling campaign contributions through straw donors, Michel caused a presidential joint fundraising committee to submit false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), including a false amended report in June 2013. The committee’s reports were false because they identified the straw donors, rather than Low or Michel, as the true source of the contributions. In addition, the indictment alleges that by contributing more than $1 million of the money he received from Low to an independent expenditure committee, Michel also caused that committee to submit false reports to the FEC, insofar as those reports identified Michel as the source of the contributions when, in fact, it was Low. The indictment further alleges that in June 2015, Michel submitted a false declaration to the FEC in which he claimed that he had no reason to conceal the true source of his contributions to the independent expenditure committee in 2012, even though Michel knew that the true source of that money was Low and that Michel had funneled the foreign money into the election.