A former fundraiser for US President Donald Trump pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge that he illegally lobbied Trump to drop an investigation into a Malaysian embezzlement scandal.
At a hearing before Washington DC federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Elliott Broidy, who held finance posts in Trump’s 2016 campaign and on his inaugural committee, pleaded guilty to a felony charge that he conspired to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Prosecutors alleged that Broidy received millions of dollars in payments from an unnamed foreign national to try to arrange the end of a US investigation into billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB, a Malaysian government investment fund.
FARA requires people who lobby the US government for foreign entities to register with the Justice Department, which Broidy admitted he had not done. He faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and agreed to forfeit US$6.6 million.
Documents seen by Reuters show that Broidy also sought unsuccessfully to facilitate the US extradition to China of multimillionaire Guo Wengui, who has engaged in US-based anti-China political activities with former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Bannon presently faces unrelated federal charges that allege that he and three others defrauded donors to a campaign to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.
The judge did not immediately impose a sentence on Broidy and set a hearing for February. She said with court approval, Broidy could travel outside the United States, and that he could travel inside the country with approval of pre-trial services officials.
Malaysian and US authorities estimate US$4.5 billion (RM18.7 million) was stolen from 1MDB in an elaborate scheme that spanned the globe and implicated high-level officials in the fund, former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, executives at US bank Goldman Sachs and others.