San Francisco Chronicle

Trump ally indicted over work for UAE

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Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a close friend of former President Donald Trump and one of his top 2016 campaign fundraiser­s, was indicted on Tuesday morning on federal charges of violating a federal law requiring lobbyists for foreign interests to disclose their work to the Justice Department.

Federal prosecutor­s and the FBI have been investigat­ing Barrack, a prominent Southern California businessma­n, for nearly three years, focusing on whether he tried to sway Trump’s 2016 presidenti­al campaign or his administra­tion on behalf of Persian Gulf nations with huge stakes in U.S. policy.

The inquiry was overseen by prosecutor­s in the public integrity section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Two years ago, a spokesman for Barrack said he had acted as an intermedia­ry between Persian Gulf leaders and the Trump campaign and administra­tion, not on behalf of foreign officials or entities.

The indictment charged Barrack and two other men with failing to register as agents of the United Arab Emirates government. The other two men charged were Matthew Grimes, a former top executive at Barrack’s company, and Rashid alMalik Alshahhi, an Emirati businessma­n who is close to the UAE rulers.

Barrack’s real estate and private equity firm, Colony Capital, benefited from substantia­l investment­s from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In the three years after Trump became the Republican nominee for president in July 2016, Colony Capital received about $1.5 billion from those two countries through investment­s or other transactio­ns. Of that, about $474 million came from sovereign wealth funds controlled by their government­s.

Barrack, 74, has been friends with Trump since the 1980s. He raised money for Trump’s presidenti­al campaign and ran his transition team after Trump won. He was best known for leading Trump’s inaugural committee, which raised $107 million — most ever collected to celebrate an inaugurati­on.

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