The Real Deal New York

Trump ally wanted $75M if US dropped 1MDB probe: report

Emails detail Elliott Broidy's talking points for Malaysian PM ahead of White House visit
March 01, 2018 01:50PM

From left: Jho Low, Pras Michel, Elliott Broidy and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

An ally of President Trump was in talks to collect up to $75 million if the U.S. Justice Department dropped its investigation into the theft of billions of dollars from a Malaysian development fund. Some of the stolen money was used to purchase luxury real estate in Manhattan and Los Angeles, according to federal prosecutors.

Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and prominent Republican fundraiser, and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, were trying to set up a consulting contract with Jho Low, who is at the center of the scandal. A cache of emails, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, include draft agreements between Rosenzweig’s Beverly Hills law firm and the embattled Malaysian businessman. One draft agreement stipulates a $75 million payment if the Justice Department drops its investigation. Later drafts show different payment structures. Its unclear if a final agreement was ever reached.

Meanwhile, Broidy prepared talking points for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of a September 2017 visit. The list included the 1MDB investigation, which has “caused unnecessary tension.”

Broidy helped raised more than $108 million for a joint fund with the Trump campaign and Republican Party. He personally gave $160,000 to the Republican National Committee last year.

An attorney for Broidy and Rosenzweig said in a statement that Rosenzweig had been retained by Pras Michel, a former member of the hip-hop group the Fugees and a friend of Low’s to “provide strategic advice as part of a broader team.”

“At no time did Mr. Broidy or Ms. Rosenzweig, or anyone acting on their behalf, discuss Mr. Low’s case with President Trump, any member of his staff, or anyone at the U.S. Department of Justice,” said the statement, which also questioned the legality of how the emails were obtained since they were drafts that were “never used.”

The Justice Department has accused Low of siphoning at least $4.5 billion from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015, alleging that some of the proceeds were used to buy luxury real estate, including a stake in the Park Lane Hotel. In September, a judge put a hold on the DOJ’s effort to seize Low’s assets. Other funds that were allegedly diverted from 1MDB went toward the $50.9 million purchase of an apartment at Walker Tower, according to federal prosecutors.

Najib is alleged to have siphoned $681 million in 1MDB funds, and used some of that money to buy tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds for his wife. He has denied wrongdoing and was cleared of wrongdoing by Malaysia’s attorney general. Low has also denied wrongdoing. [WSJ]E.B. Solomont