Colony Capital founder Tom Barrack charged with illegal lobbying for Trump

Business | 21 Jul 2021 10:51 am

Thomas Barrack, a private equity investor who is a close friend of former President Donald Trump, was arrested Tuesday morning in Los Angeles on federal charges of illegally lobbying Trump on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack, who was charged with two other men in a seven-count indictment in Brooklyn, New York, federal court, was chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund.

Barrack was ordered detained in Los Angeles pending a bail hearing next Monday.

The Santa Monica, California, resident is accused with the other defendants of secretly advancing the interests of the UAE at the direction of senior officials of that country by influencing the foreign policy positions of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and then those positions of the U.S. government during Trump’s presidency through April 2018.

Barrack, who never registered with the American government as an agent for the UAE, also is charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 2019 interview with federal law enforcement agents.

The indictment noted that Barrack, 74, during that time covered by the indictment informally advised American officials on Middle East policy, and also sought appointment to a senior role in the U.S. government, including as special envoy to the Middle East.

The evidence against Barrack includes thousands of emails, text messages, iCloud records, flight records and social media records, prosecutors separately said in a detention memo.

Prosecutors said the “evidence of [Barrack’s] guilt in this case is overwhelming.”

Prosecutors also said that Barrack had met with and assisted senior leaders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is a close UAE ally, and that he “provided UAE government officials ‘with sensitive non-public information about developments within the Administration, including information about the positions of multiple senior United States government officials with respect to the Qatari blockade conducted by the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.’”

Charged with Barrack are Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado, and a 43-year-old UAE national, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, who remains at large.

Grimes, who worked directly for Barrack at the Barrack-founded private equity firm Colony Capital, was arrested in California and detained pending a bail hearing next Monday.

Grimes has a “close personal relationship” with Barrack, has taken more than 50 international trips on Barrack’s private plane, and lists Barrack’s $15 million home in Aspen as his primary residence, prosecutors said in a court filing.

“On multiple occasions, Barrack referred to [Al Malik] as the UAE’s ‘secret weapon’ to advance its foreign policy agenda in the United States,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

“In furtherance of the alleged criminal conspiracy and conduct, Barrack and Grimes, with the assistance of [Al Malik], acquired a dedicated cellular telephone and installed a secure messaging application to facilitate Barrack’s communications with senior UAE officials,” the department said.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the Justice Department’s national security division said: “The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances.”



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