Elliott Broidy Pleads Guilty for Back-Channel Lobbying Campaign to Drop 1MDB Investigation and Remove a Chinese Foreign National

Elliott Broidy, 63, of Beverly Hills, California, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“In exchange for millions of dollars, Elliott Broidy and his co-conspirators agreed to secretly do the bidding of a foreign government and a foreign national by lobbying senior U.S. government officials regarding a pending Department of Justice investigation and the extradition of a foreign national,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Although his repeated efforts to influence the administration were unsuccessful, Mr. Broidy never disclosed that he was actually acting on behalf of foreign actors.  This case demonstrates how foreign governments and principals seek to advance their agendas in the United States by hiding behind politically influential proxies.  Such conduct poses a serious threat to our national security and undermines the integrity of our democracy.  Mr. Broidy’s failure to disclose that he was acting on behalf of foreign principals deceived the American people and prevented government officials from properly evaluating the true source of and motivation for his lobbying efforts.”

“Elliott Broidy sought to lobby the highest levels of the U.S. government to drop one of the largest fraud and money laundering prosecutions ever brought and to deport a critic of the Chinese Communist Party, all the while concealing the foreign interests whose bidding he was doing,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.  “His guilty plea is the first step in vindicating the principle of transparency that undergirds the free flow of ideas in our democratic system.”

“The FBI is committed to rooting out corruption in whatever form it occurs,” said Assistant Director Calvin Shivers of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division.  “Working with our partners at DOJ-OIG, the FBI uncovered and thwarted Elliott Broidy’s scheme to engage in illegal lobbying in exchange for millions of dollars.  This case should stand as an example to all those who engage in international corruption schemes.  The FBI and our partners will investigate, and we will bring you to justice.”

“Broidy worked on behalf of foreign officials to influence the Department of Justice, and in doing so, failed to disclose his lucrative relationship with the foreign officials,” said Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG) Cyber Investigations Office.  “Though he was unsuccessful, this case underscores the importance of protecting the integrity of DOJ investigations from foreign influence.”

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, between March 2017 and January 2018, Broidy agreed to lobby the President of the United States, the Attorney General, and other high level officials in the Administration and the Department of Justice to drop civil forfeiture proceedings and related matters concerning the embezzlement of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a strategic investment and development company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia.  For his efforts, Broidy was paid $9 million by Foreign National A, an alleged architect of the 1MDB scheme.  Broidy also agreed to lobby the Administration and DOJ on behalf of Foreign National A and People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister A, to arrange for the removal and return of PRC National A – a dissident of the PRC living in the United States.  Broidy concealed from the officials whom he lobbied that he was being paid millions of dollars by Foreign National A with the expectation of tens of millions more in success fees.  The lobbying campaigns were ultimately unsuccessful.   

Among other actions, Broidy tried to arrange meetings for PRC Minister A with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other high-level officials during the PRC Minister’s visit to the United States in May 2017; provided talking points to the Secretary of State referencing the 1MDB investigation in advance of a meeting between the Secretary of State and the Malaysian Prime Minister in August 2017; and pushed the White House Chief of Staff for a golf game between the President and the Malaysian Prime Minister to allow the Malaysian Prime Minister to raise resolution of the 1MDB investigation.  As stated previously, despite Broidy’s and his co-conspirator’s efforts, the lobbying campaign was unsuccessful as to the individuals mentioned above.  Of the $9 million Broidy was paid for his role in the scheme, he paid roughly $2.4 million to co-conspirator Nickie Lum Davis.  Broidy has agreed to forfeit the balance of $6.6 million as part of his plea agreement. 

George Higginbotham, a former Justice Department employee, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme on Nov. 30, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Lum Davis previously pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme on Aug. 31, 2020. 

Sentencing for Broidy will be set on a date to be determined.

The Los Angeles Field Division of the FBI and DOJ-OIG investigated the case.  Principal Deputy Chief John D. Keller, Deputy Director of Election Crimes Sean F. Mulryne, and Trial Attorneys Nicole R. Lockhart and James C. Mann of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) are prosecuting the case.  Former PIN Trial Attorney Ryan Ellersick also provided significant assistance in the investigation. 

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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    The Department of Defense (DOD) has encouraged the use of fixed-price-incentive (FPI) contracts where appropriate. These contracts can provide defense contractors with a profit incentive for effective cost control and performance depending on how they are structured. Over the 10-year period from fiscal years 2010 through 2019, obligations on FPI contracts for major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs) grew to account for almost half of the $65 billion in obligations for fiscal year 2019. Percentage of Obligations by Contract Type for Major Defense Acquisition Programs from Fiscal Years 2010 through 2019 DOD guidance, including Better Buying Power initiatives, influenced DOD's use of FPI contracts over the last decade for the selected contracts GAO reviewed. In addition, when selecting a contract type, contracting officers also considered factors including the availability of cost or pricing data, previous experience with the contractor, and the previously used contract type. DOD has not assessed the extent to which use of FPI contracts has contributed to achieving desired cost and schedule performance outcomes. DOD spends billions of dollars annually using fixed-price type contracts to acquire its MDAPs, among other things. In 2010, DOD's Better Buying Power guidance encouraged the use of FPI contracts as a way to obtain greater efficiency and productivity in defense spending. Congress included a provision in statute for GAO to report on DOD's use of fixed-price type contracts, including FPI. This report examines (1) the extent to which DOD has awarded FPI contracts associated with MDAPs from fiscal years 2010 through 2019, and (2) the factors that influenced DOD's decision to use FPI contracts and the extent to which DOD assesses their use, among other objectives. GAO analyzed government contracting data by contract type for fiscal years 2010 through 2019 on contracts for 101 MDAPs. GAO further analyzed a non-generalizable sample of 12 contracts including six FPI and six firm-fixed-price (two of each type from each of the three military departments); conducted file reviews; reviewed policy documentation; and interviewed DOD officials. GAO recommends that DOD conduct an assessment of its use of FPI contracts for major defense acquisition programs, including the extent to which share lines and other contract elements contributed to achieving desired cost and schedule performance outcomes. DOD agreed with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact W. William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or russellw@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today filed a statement of interest in a New Mexico federal court asserting that the States’ COVID-19 rules limiting private schools to operating at 25% of capacity but allowing public schools to operate at 50% of capacity violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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    Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson’s Remarks Good morning. It's my honor to welcome Merrick Garland back to the Department of Justice as the 86th Attorney General of the United States. I'd also like to recognize the Attorney General's wife Lynn, his brother-in-law Mitchell and his nieces Laura and Andrea. In many respects, this is a welcome home ceremony for the Attorney General. Before his appointment to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he served with distinction in a number of positions here at Main Justice and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney in the District of Columbia.
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    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it signed a settlement agreement with AllianceIT, a provider of IT staffing services based in Pleasanton, California. This is the tenth settlement under the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary foreign visa workers.
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    In Crime News
    A federal judge today ordered Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Inc. (Kidde) to pay a $12 million civil penalty in connection with allegations that the company failed to timely inform the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about problems with fire extinguishers manufactured by the company, the Department of Justice announced.
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    In Justice News
    (Publication)
    This brief presents findings based on data collected in the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates, a survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with a national sample of state and federal prisoners across a variety of topics, such as their demographic characteristics, socio-economic background, health, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
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  • Disaster Recovery: COVID-19 Pandemic Intensifies Disaster Recovery Challenges for K-12 Schools
    In U.S GAO News
    Local education officials in natural disaster-affected areas told us the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues and contributed to lost instructional time, staff burnout, delays in recovery projects, and financial strain in their communities. These officials explained that after the natural disaster, restoring students' mental health was a top priority. Many local education officials said that the services needed to treat trauma and other disaster-related mental health issues were not readily available in their areas, and some noted that providing mental health services has been especially difficult during the pandemic. For example, one official said that because half of her students live in poverty, they usually access mental health services through the school, and were cut off from those services during the pandemic. Some local education officials said they were also particularly worried about the effects of the pandemic on their low-income and other at-risk students, noting that these students are especially vulnerable to learning loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected districts by slowing progress on some disaster recovery projects. For example, an official in a district affected by wildfire said that an effort to restore running water to damaged school buildings was delayed due the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education (Education) supported school recovery efforts by awarding nearly $1.4 billion to assist schools in over 30 states and U.S. territories with recovery from presidentially-declared major disasters occurring between 2017 and 2019, although some local education officials reported difficulty in using these grant funds during the pandemic. Education provided this funding through the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (Restart) and the Project School Emergency Response to Violence grant programs, among others. Local education officials from several districts and counties said that they are using or planning to use Education disaster grants to provide mental health services to students and cover other costs associated with re-opening, such as additional transportation services, but that during the pandemic this was sometimes challenging. For example, officials in two counties said that timeframes for using Restart funds, which expire after 2 years, were too short for long-term recovery needs such as mental health services, particularly with the compounding effects of the pandemic. Education officials said that grantees may request waivers to extend the end dates of these grants and that as of October 2020, no Restart grantees who experienced a 2018 disaster had done so. With regard to oversight, Education officials said they paused on-site monitoring efforts for recent disaster grants as a result of the pandemic, but have continued to hold quarterly phone calls with Restart grantees. These grantees have noted some challenges related to the grant program but have not discussed specific technical assistance needs, according to Education officials. More than 260 presidentially-declared major disasters have occurred since 2017, affecting every state and several U.S. territories, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Many of these natural disasters have had devastating effects, including rendering K-12 school facilities unusable for lengthy periods of time. These schools are now experiencing the compounding challenge of recovering from natural disasters while managing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing practices and building closures are meant to keep staff and students safe, but may also complicate recovery efforts for disaster-affected districts. The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 provided funds for GAO to audit issues related to presidentially-declared major disasters that occurred in 2018. We reviewed (1) how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected schools recovering from recent natural disasters; and (2) support Education has provided to help school recover from recent natural disasters and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected schools' use of these resources. We interviewed 29 local education officials representing over 50 school districts in California, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, and Hawaii, which were selected because they were affected by a diverse set of major natural disasters in 2018 that occurred in a mix of populated and less-populated areas. In addition, through a national school superintendents association, we convened a discussion group of superintendents who have experienced natural disasters and mentor other affected districts. Finally, we reviewed federal guidance and interviewed Education officials. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.
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