Friday, July 19, 2024

Elliott Broidy says he has been paid millions to illegally pressure the Trump administration

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Elliott Broidy, a former Republican fundraiser who admitted to illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of foreign nationals, described his actions publicly on Tuesday for the first time, testifying in court about his failed attempts to overturn a federal investigation into a Malaysian financier. He urged US officials to extradite a wealthy Chinese dissident living in New York, whom Beijing branded a criminal.

Although he could have gotten $75 million if his efforts succeeded, he told a federal jury, he ended up with much less: an $8 million roadblock and a $1 million “appearance fee” to travel to Thailand for a secret meeting.

Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act and who was later pardoned by President Donald Trump, is cooperating with the Justice Department on criminal cases involving Malaysian financier Low Taek Joho and his associates in the United States. Authorities say Low and others profited from the theft of $4.5 billion from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Law, 41, is on the run, while one of his aides, Pracacerel “Brass” Michel, a former member of the Grammy-winning 1990s hip-hop trio, is being tried in US District Court in Washington, on charges of money laundering and federal crimes. The other related to his dealings with the missing Malaysian businessman. Michel, 50, has denied any wrongdoing.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Broidy, then an investor in Los Angeles, helped rally major donors to support Trump’s campaign. After Trump took office in 2017, Broidy was named vice chair of finance for the Republican National Committee.

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Testifying for prosecutors Tuesday in Michelle’s trial, he told the jury about a labyrinthine scheme, created in 2017, that would have raised up to $75 million from Low in exchange for illegally using his influence on Trump. Management to ease Lo’s legal problems. Part of the convoluted plan — which Broidy said Michel brokered — involved urging officials to return the dissident Chinese national to Beijing. But the efforts were in vain.

Broidy did not express apparent remorse on the witness stand, describing the illegal pressure in mostly clinical terms. During his cross-examination by the prosecutor, he repeatedly used phrases such as “business opportunity” and “terms of the deal.” As for helping Lu, he noted the benefit of “my relationships in the administration with the president and others who could be relevant.”

Authorities said Low was the leader of a small circle of corrupt people in Kuala Lumpur who looted the Malaysian fund known as 1MDB. In the United States, starting in the late 2000s, he spent tens of millions of dollars on wild parties and gave lavish gifts to many famous people – actors, musicians, socialites – whom he taught as acquaintances.

As for Michele, after the Fuji family broke up in 1997 and his solo career as a rapper waned, he reinvented himself in the 2000s as a private equity investor, eventually becoming Low’s business partner and close companion, according to prosecutors.

By 2017, the FBI and DOJ were eliminating Low, conducting a criminal investigation related to the 1MDB scandal and filing a large civil lawsuit against him, aiming to seize hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit assets. That was when Law turned to Broidy, whom the prosecution called a “fixer.”

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Broidy testified that he, along with Michelle and another business partner, traveled to Thailand in the spring of 2017 to meet with Lu in secret. Broidy said he ultimately agreed to pressure the Trump administration, seeking to shorten the federal legal process, for a fee of $50 million or $75 million, depending on how long it took to succeed.

He told the jury that he had tried, through intermediaries, to persuade senior administration officials to believe that he would He is It is detrimental to US-Malaysian relations that the Department of Justice continue to embroil itself in the 1MDB issue. He said he tried in vain to arrange for Trump to play a round of golf with then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak so that Razak could tell Trump that the 1MDB scandal was not important.

In the end, Razak was sentenced to prison in Malaysia for his role in the embezzlement.

As his efforts failed, Broidy said, he met with Lu again in 2017, in mainland China. He said that this meeting included a senior Chinese local security official.

Lu seemed to believe that the Chinese authorities could somehow help him with his legal problems, and because of this, Lu wanted to please the Chinese. Broidy said Lu and the security official asked him to use his influence in the Trump administration to secure the extradition of wealthy Chinese national Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government who had been living in New York on a temporary visa.

Broidy said the security official called Guo a criminal.

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He said the official promised that in return for Guo’s deportation, China would release American detainees it holds and possibly enter into a new cooperation agreement with the United States on cybersecurity issues. Broidy said he relayed this to several officials in Washington, including in the White House, and told then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that Guo’s handover would be “a wonderful step forward” in US-China relations.

But these efforts also failed.

In the end, though Guo was not deported, Michel received “more than $70 million” from Low, according to prosecutors. Guo has since been indicted by a federal grand jury in an unrelated financial fraud case.

By April 2018, Broidy had stepped down from his position on the Republican National Committee after he reportedly paid the former Playboy model $1.6 million in exchange for her silence about a sexual relationship. Then, as the FBI investigation into Low intensified, he was charged in 2020 with illegal lobbying and pleaded guilty in a plea deal with prosecutors.

The agreement called for him to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He said he continues to do so, despite a pardon from Trump. After the pardon, Broidy said, he signed a new agreement with prosecutors, agreeing to maintain his cooperation in exchange for not bringing new charges of various crimes related to illegal lobbying.

Elena Frances
Elena Frances
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