Ex-Trump fund-raiser charged over illegal lobbying in 1MDB case

WASHINGTON • A former leading fund-raiser for US President Donald Trump has been indicted on a charge that he illegally lobbied the United States government to drop its probe into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal and to deport an exiled Chinese billionaire.

Elliott Broidy was charged in federal court with one count of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent after allegedly agreeing to take millions of dollars to lobby the Trump administration.

The indictment, made public on Thursday, said Broidy was recruited in 2017 by an unnamed foreign national, understood to be Malaysian Low Taek Jho, to pressure US officials to end their investigation of a scandal engulfing then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The scandal involved the theft of over US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) from 1MDB, and fugitive Low was central to moving and hiding some of the stolen funds.

At the time, Broidy was national deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after having been a major fund-raiser for Mr Trump's 2016 campaign.

After being recruited by Low, Broidy personally asked Mr Trump to invite Najib to play golf during the Malaysian leader's September 2017 visit to the US, the indictment said. The goal was to give Najib a chance "to attempt to resolve the 1MDB matter" with the US leader, the document said. The golf game never happened, and Low was indicted in 2018 for his role in siphoning billions from 1MDB.

In addition, in May 2017, Low introduced Broidy to a Chinese state minister, and they discussed Beijing's desire that Washington deport an exiled Chinese tycoon, the indictment said.

It did not name either person, but the tycoon is known to be prominent dissident businessman Guo Wengui. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese official was Mr Sun Lijun, former vice-minister of public security.

The indictment describes Broidy's intense lobbying of the White House, the Justice Department and law enforcement on behalf of the Chinese, including contacts with, but not direct discussions with, Mr Trump.

The object, the indictment said, was "to make millions of dollars by leveraging Broidy's access to and perceived influence with the President and his administration".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2020, with the headline Ex-Trump fund-raiser charged over illegal lobbying in 1MDB case. Subscribe