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California Billionaire, Trump Confidante Charged With Illegal Lobbying for UAE

A billionaire from California who was chairman of former US President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and was one of his presidential campaign’s largest fundraisers was arrested on Tuesday and charged with not disclosing his lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Thomas Barrack, 74, was indicted in New York federal court on charges of violating foreign lobbying laws, obstructing justice and making false statements.

Barrack, the founder and former executive chairman of the Colony Capital the investment firm, is alleged to have helped schedule calls, draft statements, prevent certain meetings and try to move US policy to be more favorable to the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018.  He is also alleged to have lied to FBI agents during a 2019 interview about his dealings with the UAE. He is not accused of being paid for this secret work. A UAE sovereign wealth fund invested significantly in Colony Capital, however, according to reports.

Two other men were also indicted alongside Barrack: Matthew Grimes, an employee at Colony Capital; and Rashid Alshahhi, a citizen of the UAE who lived in California until the FBI interviewed him about the case in 2018 after which he fled the country, The Washington Post reported.