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Trump ally Tom Barrack arrested on foreign agent charges

  • SAM HODGSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES
                                Tom Barrack, chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, talked to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, in January 2017.

    SAM HODGSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES

    Tom Barrack, chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, talked to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, in January 2017.

Tom Barrack Jr., the founder of Colony Capital Inc. and a former top fund-raiser for Donald Trump, was arrested on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.

Barrack, 74, was arrested in California today, according to a Justice Department statement. Two others are also named as defendants in an indictment unsealed the same day.

Others tied to Trump have been charged with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Among them are former top fundraiser Elliott Broidy, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is being investigated for breaches of FARA and has denied wrongdoing.

FARA, as it is known, requires people in the U.S. who are acting on behalf of a foreign principal to register as such. Penalties for violating the act range from a $5,000 fine to as many as 5 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, unsealed the seven-count indictment against Barrack, Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, also known as Rashid Al Malik, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. All three were charged with acting and conspiring to act as unregistered agents of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018.

According to prosecutors, the three engaged in unlawful efforts to advance the interests of the UAE in the U.S. at the direction of senior UAE officials. They are alleged to have done so by influencing the foreign policy positions of the campaign of a candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, subsequently, the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government in the incoming administration.

The indictment also charges Barrack with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements during a June 20, 2019, interview with federal law enforcement agents

Barrack met Trump in the 1980s and famously sold Trump New York’s Plaza Hotel. At the outset of the campaign, he thought Trump, a gifted showman, was simply trying to conjure up publicity while renegotiating his contract as the reality show host of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Within months Barrack was in deep, advising his friend on everything from foreign policy to cabinet appointments.

With the Trump era behind him, Barrack was going back to his roots. He stepped down as Colony chairman in March, formed a new venture, Falcon Peak Partners, and had just inked the first in a series of deals he’s pursuing in the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries.

Colony Capital is now named DigitalBridge Group Inc.

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