calendar Friday, 23 July 2021 clock
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WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: Thomas Barrack, a billionaire friend of Donald Trump who chaired the former president’s inaugural fund, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the UAE, Reuters has reported.

A seven-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, alleged that Barrack, a former employee and an Emirati businessman failed to register as lobbyists and used their influence to advance the UAE’s foreign policy goals in the US.

Barrack, who was arrested in Los Angeles, is also alleged to have repeatedly lied during an FBI interview about his dealings with the UAE.

Barrack’s spokesperson refuted the charges. “Mr Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset. He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty,” the spokesperson said.

Friendships and access

US department of justice official Mark Lesko said in a news release that “the defendants repeatedly capitalised 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 disclosing their true allegiances.

Barrack, 74, is a longtime Trump ally and founder of the digital infrastructure-focused private equity firm DigitalBridge Group, which was known as Colony Capital before a rebranding announced in June.

Barrack stepped down as DigitalBridge’s chief executive in 2020. In April, he resigned as executive chairman of the firm but has remained as a non-executive director. Forbes estimates his wealth at $1 billion.

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