Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, was charged Thursday by federal authorities with violating a foreign lobbying law.
Prosecutors accused the venture capitalist Broidy of violating that law as part of a scheme to get the Justice Department to drop a major investigation into a foreign national widely believed to be fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low and to have a dissident Chinese billionaire returned home from the United States.
As part of that alleged scheme, Broidy, who ended up being paid $9 million by a foreign national, tried to arrange for a golf game between Trump and Malaysia's prime minister, a court filing said. Broidy hoped to earn as much as $75 million if he got the U.S. government to drop its probe of Low, according to the filing.
Broidy was charged in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., via a document known as a criminal information, which is typically used when a defendant has agreed to plead guilty.
The charging document says Broidy agreed to lobby the Trump administration and the Justice Department to drop or favorably resolve the investigation of a "foreign national" for his role in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the Malaysia state development fund, known as 1MDB.
Low, also known as Low Taek Jhon, was indicted two years ago by the Justice Department for allegedly conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.
The Justice Department in the charging document filed Thursday said that Broidy and Nickie Lum Davis, an American consultant involved in the case, failed to disclose to the Trump administration or to the Justice Department that Broidy was acting on behalf of the foreign national.
Davis pleaded guilty in August to one count of violating the foreign lobbying act as part of the Justice Department's probe involving 1MDB. Davis admitted during her plea that she aided and abetted two other people, identified as Person A and Person B.
The Washington Post has reported that people familiar with the case said that Person A is Pras Michel, a former rapper with the hip-hop group Fugees, and that Person B is Broidy.
In May 2019, the Justice Department charged Michel and Low with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions during the 2012 presidential election. Michel has denied wrongdoing.
Both Broidy and Davis, along with Person A, tried to arrange a meeting between Malaysia's prime minister and Trump in September 2017 "to raise the resolution of the 1MDB matter with" Trump, according to the filing charging Broidy.
The document notes that Broidy, Davis and Person A "were unsuccessful in their efforts to have the 1MDB matters dropped or otherwise favorably resolved for Foreign National A."
The filing also said that the trio met with a minister of the People's Republic of China in China and agreed that Broidy, assisted by the other two people, would lobby the Trump administration to return an unidentified Chinese national to China.
That Chinese national is understood to be the billionaire Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok and Miles Guo, a critic of China's government who has sought asylum in the United States.
Broidy is charged with conspiring to act as unregistered agent for a foreign principal.
Broidy resigned from his high-ranking role as the Republican National Committee's deputy finance chairman in 2018, following bombshell revelations that he agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model he impregnated in an affair. Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen represented Broidy in the deal for that payment.
In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty in New York state court to a misdemeanor charge related to his making nearly $1 million in gifts to state pension fund officials in exchange for Broidy's private equity firm being handed $250 million in pension funds to manage.
The same investigation that snared Broidy in that case led to the conviction of former New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi.
Steve Bannon, Trump's former senior advisor, was arrested in August and charged with defrauding thousands of donors through a crowdfunding campaign to privately build sections of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bannon, 66, was apprehended by authorities while on a yacht owned by Guo.