© Reuters. File picture: Billionaire real estate investor and CEO of Colony Capital Thomas Barrack held a meeting with the media on May 22, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico, to discuss investment plans in Mexico and Latin America. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Authors: Jan Wolfe and Chibuike Oguh
Washington/New York (Reuters)-Donald Trump’s billionaire friend Thomas Barak was arrested on Tuesday and accused of illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Seven indictments filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York allege that former employee and UAE businessman Barak failed to register as a lobbyist and used their influence to advance the UAE’s foreign policy goals in the United States.
Barack, who was arrested in Los Angeles, was also accused of lying several times during an interview conducted by the FBI about his dealings with the UAE.
Barak’s spokesperson refuted these allegations. The spokesman said: “Mr. Barack voluntarily let investigators contact him from the beginning. He is not guilty and will not plead guilty.”
US Department of Justice official Mark Lesko said in a news release that “the defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected president, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of A foreign government without revealing their true loyalty.”
The 74-year-old Barack is a long-time ally of Trump and the founder of DigitalBridge Group Inc, a private equity firm focused on digital infrastructure, which was called Colony Capital (NYSE:) Inc before announcing the change in June.
Barack will step down as CEO of DigitalBridge in 2020. In April, he resigned as the company’s executive chairman, but still served as a non-executive director. Forbes estimates his wealth is 1 billion U.S. dollars.
DigitalBridge manages approximately $32 billion in digital assets, including data centers in North America and the United Kingdom. Barrack owns approximately 5.7% of DigitalBridge. The company’s stock price closed at $6.93 on Tuesday, down 1.4%.
A DigitalBridge spokesperson declined to comment.
Barack was an outstanding supporter of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign success and led his inaugural committee.
Federal prosecutors are seeking to detain Barak, claiming in a court document that his huge wealth, the right to use private jets and the history of international travel indicate that he may become a fugitive.
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