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The Justice Department reportedly is probing whether a $100,000 donation to a political fundraising group linked to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign came from Jho Low — the fugitive who is accused of helping to steal billions of dollars from 1MDB, a state-run investment fund in his native Malaysia.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported Wednesday that investigators are trying to see if some of the $1.5 million in total transfers Low made in mid-2017 to Hawaii investment firm LNS Capital was used by its owner Larry Davis to make a $100,000 donation to the Trump Victory political action committee in December of that year.
Because he is not a U.S. citizen, the 36-year-old Low is barred from making either direct or indirect donations to American politicians or to PACs.
The Journal reported that Low, who is suspected to be living in China, in an email denied knowing Davis and having any knowledge about Davis' donation to Trump Victory. The PAC helps fund not only Trump's re-election campaign but also the Republican National Committee and other GOP election campaigns.
The newspaper said that Low, minutes after sending the email about Davis, followed up and said that email was meant for his lawyer, and asked a reporter to disregard it.
The newspaper said that $60,000 of Davis' donation went to the RNC, $5,400 went to the Trump campaign and the balance went to state GOP parties and campaigns.
The Justice Department already was investigating Low's alleged effort to have the U.S. government abandon its probe of his alleged looting of the 1MDB investment fund, formally known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Low and his alleged co-conspirators are accused of using the stolen money to fund high-flying lifestyles, and to finance films, including the Martin Scorsese movie "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Cassie Smedile, a spokeswoman for the RNC, said in a statement that "Trump Victory does not accept contributions from corporations or foreign nationals in accordance with the law. We vehemently deny any wrongdoing on the part of the RNC or Trump Campaign."
Low's lawyer Robin Rathmell, in an email to CNBC, said, "Mr Low categorically denies having made any of the alleged donations mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article."
"These allegations are completely false and without any basis at all – as the Wall Street Journal was informed before publishing them," Rathmell said. "Mr Low has never entered into any agreement and/or paid (or authorised payment of) any money to the entities referred to in the Wall Street Journal article as supposedly having made political donations. Indeed, Mr Low had never heard of LNS or Larry Davis until referenced by the Wall Street Journal. It is disappointing that the Wall Street Journal chose to ignore legal privilege and publish an email that was clearly sent in error."
Davis is married to a woman named Nickie Lum Davis, who co-owns LNS Capital, the Journal reported. In 1997, her parents, Nora and Eugene Lum, who had previously raised significant amounts of money to fund Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to making $50,000 in illegal contributions to the 1994 campaigns of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and to another congressional candidate that year.
CNBC has reached out to Larry and Nickie Lum Davis for comment. Larry Davis did not respond to a request for comment from the Journal.