A U.S. entertainer and businessman has been found guilty of orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign to influence the then-administration of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice. The campaign aimed to drop the investigation of an international strategic and development company known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and to send a Chinese national back to China. The defendant, along with others, engaged in undisclosed lobbying campaigns to have the investigation and forfeiture proceedings dropped and to have a Chinese national sent back to China.
According to court documents, the defendant conspired with others to use millions of dollars in foreign funds to engage in illegal back-channel lobbying and make unlawful campaign contributions. The verdict sends a message that anyone who engages in unlawful foreign-sponsored efforts to influence American officials, elections, or the criminal justice system will be brought to justice.
The defendant also conspired to orchestrate and conceal a foreign and conduit contribution scheme in which they funneled millions of dollars into the 2012 U.S. presidential election as purportedly legitimate campaign contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money. The defendant received the money and contributed it both personally and through approximately 20 straw donors. The defendant also caused false reports to be submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The defendant was convicted of conspiracy, concealment of material facts, making false entries in records, witness tampering, and serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign power. The maximum penalty for the top counts is 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Department of Justice - Press Release - Wednesday, April 26, 2023 https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-entertainer-convicted-engaging-foreign-influence-campaign