More toe curling details on how Malaysia’s stolen money was employed in attempted bribes to influence successive Presidents of the United States have emerged from the New York trial of hip hop star Pras Michel.
The week kicked off with a star appearance in the court by Leo DiCaprio, acting as a witness to the lavish partying by Jho Low and his friendship and developing business relationship with Pras Michel, who stands accused of illegally funnelling millions of stolen 1MDB dollars via his friends (acting as straw donors) into President Obama’s election campaign.
The donations were successful in buying sufficient access to net Najib a game of golf with Obama in the Christmas period of 2014.
On Tuesday it was the turn of the former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee to testify how even greater sums were later paid to him to influence Trump. He had sought up to $75 million to influence the Justice Department under Trump to drop its investigations into 1MDB, although given he failed he claims he received just $8 million.
He also attempted to assist China in its efforts to extradite the alleged fraudster Miles Guo, who was arrested last month by the US authorities over a separate matter.
Broidy pleaded guilty in 2020 to these offences in that he illegally acted as a foreign agent, “leveraging his connections” as he told the court, without declaring his interests as an employee both of Malaysia and China via Jho Low. However, he was pardoned by Trump before he left office.
The Washington Post reported Broidy expressed no visible remorse on the witness stand as he described the illegal lobbying
Under questioning by a prosecutor, he repeatedly used phrases such as “business opportunity” and “the deal terms.” As for helping Low, he referred to leveraging “my relationships in the administration with the president and others who could be relevant.” [Washington Post]
It became clear says the report that the opportunity most sought after by Najib was a second prestigious opportunity to play golf with a President, in order to get the chance to bend his ear about 1MDB:
[Broidy] told the jury that he tried, through intermediaries, to sway top administration officials into believing it would be detrimental to U.S.-Malaysian relations for the Justice Department to continue involving itself in the 1MDB matter. He said he tried in vain to arrange for Trump to play a round of golf with then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak so that Razak could tell Trump that the 1MDB scandal was not significant. [Washington Post]
However, with investigations by that stage publicly underway into 1MDB in the United States, he failed to get Najib’s wish. The prime minister was forced to settle for a tense visit to the White House that degenerated into a national humiliation for Malaysia.
Ironically, given the other major New York trial currently in the news involving the same Donald Trump, Broidy was himself eventually forced to step down in 2018, not because of these offences but for paying off a Playboy model to keep silent over an affair.
To avoid further charges Broidy had agreed to testify in the Pras Michel case concerning the singer’s role in the conspiracy to act for Jho Low, Najib and separately the Chinese government in lobbying Trump.
However, for the now imprisoned Najib Razak the investment came to naught.