The investigation into Broidy stems from a massive probe of a multibillion-dollar embezzlement from a Malaysian government development fund that has come to be known by the shorthand “1MDB.” In previous civil and criminal cases, federal prosecutors have alleged that much of at least $4.5 billion that was stolen made its way into the United States and was used to buy pricey real estate and even fund the award-winning movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The alleged mastermind, Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, was indicted in 2018 and accused of funneling tens of millions of dollars into the United States in part to get the investigation dropped. Low, who is believed to be in China, has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated.
According to court documents and people familiar with the matter, Low funded Broidy’s efforts — both to get the 1MDB investigation dropped and to get Guo sent back to China. Guo is a vocal online critic of the Beijing government and is wanted by Chinese authorities on charges of fraud, blackmail and bribery. He has denied those charges and called them retaliatory.
In recent years, Guo has aligned with Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chief and top White House strategist. Bannon was on Guo’s yacht off the coast of Westbrook, Conn., when Bannon was arrested in August on charges that he defrauded donors to a group that claimed to be raising money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a related case, Broidy business associate Nickie Mali Lum Davis pleaded guilty in August. Davis admitted she, along with Broidy and former Fugees rapper Pras Michel, met with a Chinese official in Hong Kong in May 2017 and the official asked for Broidy’s help persuading the United States to send Guo back to China. Of $9 million Broidy was paid in the overall scheme, roughly $2.4 million went to Davis, prosecutors said.
Broidy, according to court documents, tried unsuccessfully to set up a meeting between the Chinese official — whom people familiar with the matter identified as Sun Lijun, then-vice minister of public security — and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Broidy then sent a memo intended for Sessions drafted with information from Sun promising greater law enforcement cooperation if Guo were deported, court documents said. The memo was not passed on to Sessions, according to people familiar with the matter.
Broidy also sought to persuade officials to drop the 1MDB investigation, according to the documents and people familiar with the matter. Davis acknowledged that she was paid $1.7 million, that she helped route an $8 million retainer to Broidy for the influence campaign, and that Low offered to pay a $75 million “success fee” as part of a contract with Broidy’s wife’s law firm if the 1MDB case was resolved within 180 days.
According to prosecutors, Broidy met with Trump at the White House in October 2017 and falsely told others that he raised the subject of the 1MDB investigation. In charging papers, prosecutors alleged that in a show of influence, Broidy in June 2017 personally asked Trump to play a round of golf with then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was later convicted on charges in Malaysia related to the 1MDB scandal and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Najib has denied wrongdoing.
No golf game ultimately took place, though Najib did meet with Trump at the White House, prosecutors said.
Overall, Malaysia and the United States have alleged that more than $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB. The U.S. government has sought the forfeiture of $2.1 billion in related assets and recovered nearly $1.1 billion.