KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — US prosectors have charged a consultant there with illicit lobbying linked to attempts to influence the Trump administration into halting its investigation into the 1MDB global corruption scandal.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Nickie Lum Davis was charged under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for failing to declare that he was acting on behalf of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.
Low has been indicted in the US on charges of money laundering and bribery. He is also at the centre of the US Justice Department’s (DoJ) kleptocracy action over 1MDB.
Prosecutors accused Davis on a single count of violating FARA by working with a politically connected fundraiser with close ties to President Donald Trump to press the DoJ and other administration officials to abandon forfeiture claims seeking the recovery of assets bought with laundered proceeds.
The report presented the prosecutors as saying Low offered an US$8 million (RM33.3 million) retainer fee for the illicit lobbying, and an additional US$75 million if the matter was resolved within 180 days.
They also alleged during a May 2017 meeting in Bangkok, the unnamed fundraiser suggested that the money should not come from Low but should instead be “clean”, and Low identified a friend who could handle the payments.
The fundraiser is not identified by name, but his description in a court document filed last week matches that of Elliott Broidy, the former deputy chair of Trump’s inaugural committee.
The criminal case was filed last Monday, but court records do not show any activity since then. An email to a lawyer for Low was not immediately returned.
FARA requires individuals who are enlisted by foreign entities to lobby the US government to register that work with the Justice Department.
A lawyer who has represented Davis did not return an email and phone message seeking comment. The US Attorney’s office in Hawaii declined to comment.
The charge is the latest in a series of court charges and investigations around the world arising from 1MDB.
The US Justice Department in 2018 charged Low, who remains at large, in connection with the alleged money laundering and last year reached a civil settlement to recover more than US$700 million in assets that officials say are traceable to the looted funds.
Low continues to deny wrongdoing both in the US and other jurisdictions including Malaysia where he has been charged in relation to the scandal.
Malaysia is in the process of trying former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on dozens of charges related to the 1MDB scandal and has so far managed to convict him on seven of these.