Friday, June 18, 2021

Consultant charged for illicit lobbying of Trump administration to stop 1MDB money-laundering probe

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Prosecutors have accused an American consultant of illicitly lobbying President Trump’s administration to stop a probe into a multi-billion dollar looting of a Malaysian state investment fund and to return a Chinese dissident who is in the U.S.

In a criminal complaint filed in a federal court in Honolulu last week, prosecutors allege that Nickie Lum Davis violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates those recruited by foreign entities to lobby the U.S. government to register the work with the Justice Department, The Associated Press reported.

The complaint said that Davis lobbied on behalf of a fugitive Malaysian financier, who has been charged with conspiring to launder billions of dollars from the state investment fund.

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The charge is the most recent involving the Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB which was intended to improve the nation’s economic development. Instead, U.S. prosecutors allege that allies of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak took at least $4.5 billion for personal use such as funding films and buying hotels, a yacht, art, jewelry and other items.

Davis’s attempts to prevent the U.S. from investigating the state investment fund were unsuccessful as the suspected ringleader Jho Low was charged in connection to the laundering in 2018. Low is still at large.

The criminal complaint said Davis worked with a fundraiser with close ties to Trump to lobby the Justice Department to stop looking into the wealth fund. Low allegedly offered $8 million for the lobbying and another $75 million if there was an agreement within 180 days, according to the AP.

Prosecutors said the Trump-connected fundraiser advised for the money not to come from Low, and the fugitive worked out a deal with a friend to provide the money. The fundraiser was not named in the complaint, but the AP noted his description aligned with Elliott Broidy, the former deputy chair of Trump’s inaugural committee.

The complaint also alleged that lobbying was conducted to try to set up a meeting between Trump and the former Malaysian prime minister, but ultimately did not work out.

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Davis was also reportedly involved with trying to schedule meetings with the Justice Department to lobby for a dissident living in the U.S. to be extradited to China. The dissident is also unnamed, but the charging documents include a Wall Street Journal article with Guo Wengui mentioned in the headline, according to the AP.

In 2014, Guo fled China after an anti-corruption crackdown. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested while aboard Guo’s yacht last week off the coast of Connecticut.

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