Although he could have pocketed up to $75 million if his efforts had been successful, he told a federal jury: an $8 million retainer and a $1 million “appearance fee” to travel to Thailand for a secret meeting.
Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act and was later pardoned by President Donald Trump, has been cooperating with the Justice Department in criminal cases involving Malaysian financier Low Taek Joh and his associates in the United States. Authorities say Lowe and others profited from the theft of $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Low, 41, is a fugitive while one of his accomplices, Prakasrel “Brass” Michael, a former member of the Grammy Award-winning 1990s hip-hop trio The Fugees, has been charged in U.S. District Court in Washington with money laundering related to his activities with the missing Malaysian businessman. Other federal crimes. Michael, 50, has denied any wrongdoing.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Broidy, a Los Angeles-based investor, helped get major donors to support the Trump campaign. After Trump took office in 2017, Broidy was named deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee.
Testifying for the prosecution Tuesday at Michael’s trial, he told jurors about a complex scheme hatched in 2017 in which he collected up to $75 million from Lowe for illegally using his influence on Trump. Management eases Lowe’s legal problems. Part of the convoluted plan – which Broidy said was brokered by Michael – urged authorities to return the disgruntled Chinese national to Beijing. But the efforts did not work.
Broidy expressed no apparent remorse on the witness stand, as he described illegal solicitation on mostly medical grounds. Under questioning by a prosecutor, he repeatedly used phrases like “business opportunity” and “contractual terms.” As for helping Lowe, he noted improving “my relationships with the president and others involved in the administration.”
Authorities say Low is the leader of a small circle of kleptocrats in Kuala Lumpur who looted the Malaysian fund known as 1MDB. In the United States, starting in the late 2000s, he spent tens of thousands of dollars on wild parties and lavish gifts on celebrities — actors, musicians, socialites — many of whom he cultivated as acquaintances.
As for Michaels, after the Fugees broke up in 1997 and his solo career as a rapper waned, he reinvented himself in the 2000s as a private-equity investor, eventually becoming a business partner and close associate of Lowe’s, prosecutors said.
By 2017, the FBI and Department of Justice were conducting a criminal investigation into the 1MDB scandal and a major civil action against him aimed at seizing hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. That’s when Lowe turned to Broidy, whom the attorney described as a “fixer.”
Broidy testified that he, Michael and another business associate flew to Thailand in the spring of 2017 to secretly meet with Lowe. Broidy said he agreed to lobby the Trump administration to try to short-circuit the federal legal action, for a fee of $50 million or $75 million, depending on how long it took him to eventually win.
He told the jury he tried through middlemen to convince top management. Be Continued involvement of the judiciary in the 1MDB matter could harm US-Malaysian relations. He said he tried in vain to arrange for Trump to play a round of golf with then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to tell Razak Trump that the 1MDB scandal was not important.
Razak was eventually jailed in Malaysia for his involvement in the scam.
After his efforts failed, Broidy said, he met with Low again in 2017 in mainland China. He said a top Chinese domestic security official was also present at the meeting.
Lo seemed to think that the Chinese authorities could somehow help him with his legal problems, and because of that, Lo wanted to please the Chinese. Broidy said Lo and the security official asked him to use his influence in the Trump administration to extradite Guo Wengui, a wealthy Chinese national who lives in New York under a temporary visa and is an outspoken critic of China’s government.
The security officer described Guo as a criminal, Broidy said.
In exchange for Guo’s extradition, the official promised that China would release American prisoners in its custody and enter into a new cooperation agreement with the United States on cybersecurity issues. Broidy told various officials in Washington, including the White House and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, that Guo’s extradition would be an “incredible step” in US-China relations.
But these efforts also failed.
In the end, even though Guo was not extradited, he received “more than $70 million” from Michael Lowe, according to prosecutors. Guo was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in an unrelated financial fraud case.
By April 2018, Broidy had resigned from his position with the Republican National Committee after it was revealed that he paid a former Playboy model $1.6 million. Later, as the FBI investigation into Low intensified, he was charged with illegal lobbying in 2020 and pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors.
The agreement required him to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Despite being pardoned by Trump, he said he continues to do it. After the pardon, Broidy said he signed a new deal with prosecutors, agreeing to maintain his cooperation in exchange for not being charged anew with various crimes related to illegal lobbying.