Elliott Broidy, an American venture capitalist pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lobbying top U.S. government officials to influence the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop its investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Broidy was a major fundraiser for the Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
1MDB is a strategic investment and development company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia.
According to the DOJ, Broidy pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
He admitted having co-conspirators and they received millions of dollars from a foreign government and a foreign national. In exchange, they “agreed to secretly” seek to influence Pres. Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other top officials in the Administration, and the DOJ to abandon the civil forfeiture proceedings and related charges regarding the embezzlement of billions of dollars from 1MDB.
Broidy admitted getting paid $9 million for his lobbying efforts
Broidy admitted confessed that the alleged architect of the 1MDB (Foreign national A) paid him $9 million. His role is to “lobby the Administration and DOJ on behalf of foreign national A and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister A and to arrange for the removal and return of PRC National A – a dissident of the PRC living in the United States.”
Out of the $9 million, Broidy paid around $2.4 million to his co-conspirator, Nickie Lum Davis. He agreed to forfeit the $6.6 million as part of his plea agreement.
Some of the efforts Broidy attempted included arranging meetings for Chinese Minister A with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other high-level officials in May 2017. Chinese Minister A was visiting the United States at the time. He also provided talking points to the Secretary of State regarding the 1MDB investigation before a meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister in August 2017. He also pushed the White House Chief of Staff to set a golf game between the President and the Malaysian Prime Minister to seek settlement of the 1MDB probe. His efforts were unsuccessful, according to the DOJ.
A former Justice Department employee named George Higginbotham pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme on November 30, 2018. Lum Davis pleaded guilty on August 31, 2020.
A threat to U.S. national security and democracy
In a statement, DOJ Criminal Division Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbit said, “In exchange for millions of dollars, Elliott Broidy and his co-conspirators agreed to secretly do the bidding of a foreign government and a foreign national…Although his repeated efforts to influence the administration were unsuccessful, Mr. Broidy never disclosed that he was actually acting on behalf of foreign actors. This case demonstrates how foreign governments and principals seek to advance their agendas in the United States by hiding behind politically influential proxies.”
He added that Broidy’s conduct threatens the U.S. national security and the integrity of the country’s democracy.
On the other hand, DOJ National Security Division Assistant Attorney General John Demers said, “Elliott Broidy sought to lobby the highest levels of the U.S. government to drop one of the largest fraud and money laundering prosecutions ever brought and to deport a critic of the Chinese Communist Party, all the while concealing the foreign interests whose bidding he was doing. His guilty plea is the first step in vindicating the principle of transparency that undergirds the free flow of ideas in our democratic system.”
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