Thomas Barrack, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Colony Capital Inc., gestures during the closing reception at the Milken Institute Japan Symposium in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, March 25, 2019. The conference will bring together business leaders and government officials to discuss geopolitical, economic and social problems faced by Japan. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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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 related to illegally lobbying for Trump in the United Arab Emirates, the Justice Department said.
Barrack, who was charged with three other men on a seven-stage indictment in New York federal court, served as chairman of Trump’s 2017 charter fund.
Barrack, 74, is a longtime friend of Trump and the founder of large private equity firm Colony Capital.
Santa Monica, California-based Barrack and the other defendants are charged with illegally attempting to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates on the direction of senior officials in that nation “by taking the foreign policy positions of a candidate’s campaign in the United Arab Emirates have influenced “. The US presidential election in 2016 and subsequently the foreign policy positions of the US government in the new administration, “said the Justice Department.
Barrack was charged with acting as a UAW agent and plotting against Matthew Grimes, 27, of Aspen, Colorado, Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi and Rashid Al-Malik, a UAE national, from April 2016 to April 2018.
Barrack is also charged with obstruction of justice and multiple false statements during an interview with federal police officers in June 2019.
“The defendants repeatedly exploited Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was ultimately elected president, high-ranking campaign and government officials and the American media to advance the political goals of a foreign government without revealing their true loyalty,” the said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing less than betrayal of these officials in the United States, including the former president,” Lesko said in a statement.
A Trump spokeswoman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on the arrest.
A Barrack spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Barrack stepped down as CEO of Colony Capital in 2020. In April he stepped down as Executive Chairman of the company.
For at least two years the federal prosecutor’s office has been investigating Barracks’ alleged work on behalf of the interests of the UAE.
One of the events that caught their attention was an energy policy speech given by Trump as a presidential candidate in May 2016.
According to the indictment, Barrack added “a language in which to praise the UAE” and “emailed a draft speech to Alshahhi for distribution to senior UAE officials”.
For the next two years, prosecutors claim, Barrack “sought and received instruction and feedback, including topics for conversation, from senior UAE officials in connection with national press appearances that Barrack has used to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates.” .
“During that time, Barrack never registered as a lobbyist for the UAE, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”