21 Jul 2021

Trump ally Barrack arrested on foreign lobbying charges - US justice department

11:51 am on 21 July 2021

Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president's inaugural fund, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump, Colony Capital founder, investor and Presidential Inaugural Committee Chairman, during the 45th US President Donald Trump's inaugural parade in Washington.

Thomas Barrack was a prominent supporter of Trump's successful 2016 presidential campaign. Photo: AFP

A seven-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, alleged that Barrack, a former employee and an Emirati businessman failed to register as lobbyists and used their influence to advance the UAE's foreign policy goals in the US.

Barrack is also alleged to have repeatedly lied during an FBI interview about his dealings with the UAE.

Barrack's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"The defendants repeatedly capitalised 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," US Department of Justice official Mark Lesko said in a news release.

Barrack, 74, is a longtime Trump ally and founder of the digital infrastructure-focused private equity firm DigitalBridge Group Inc, which was known as Colony Capital Inc before a rebranding was announced in June.

Barrack stepped down as DigitalBridge's chief executive in 2020. In April, he resigned as executive chairman of the firm but has remained as an independent director. Forbes estimates his wealth at $1 billion.

A spokeswoman for DigitalBridge declined to comment.

Barrack was a prominent supporter of Trump's successful 2016 presidential campaign and directed his inaugural committee.

Federal prosecutors are seeking to have Barrack held in detention, saying in a court filing that his vast wealth, access to private jets and history of international travel indicate he could become a fugitive.

- Reuters

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