NEW YORK, October 27 (Reuters) – Tom Barrack, once a fundraiser for Donald Trump, acknowledged in cross-examination Thursday that he hopes his ties to the then-president will encourage the UAE official to invest in his company, but he would not trade political access for a business relationship. He said he didn’t accept.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said that 75-year-old Barrack, used his influence Through Trump’s campaign and administration in 2016 and 2017, he was acting as a representative of the country, as required by law, without informing the US attorney general to support the interests of the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack pleaded not guilty and argues his interactions with Middle Eastern officials are part of his role as managing private equity firm Colony Capital, now known as DigitalBridge Group Inc. (DBRG.N). He began testifying in his own defense on Monday. deny accepting Moving in the direction of the UAE.
During a cross-examination on Thursday, prosecutor Sam Nitze asked Barrack if he hoped his ties to Trump would set him apart in his search for investment from Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a national security official who runs a bank in the UAE. , when the two met in the Emirates in May 2016.
“You can’t just be a regular businessman showing up with your briefcase and your PowerPoint deck,” Nitze said. “Yes or no, one of the things you wanted to offer Sheikh Tahnoun was your access to Donald Trump?”
Barrack answered in the affirmative to both questions. But when Nitze asked Sheikh Tahnoun if he had agreed to grant access and influence “in the hope of establishing a long-term business relationship,” Barrack replied “No”.
Prosecutors pointed to investments by two UAE sovereign wealth funds in Colony projects in 2017 and 2018 as proof of Barrack’s motivation to work as an agent.
Questioned directly by his lawyer, Michael Schachter, earlier on Thursday, Barrack said he had little to do with the $374 million deals. He said he nearly withdrew from one of the deals after learning that one of the funds, Mubadala, would be an Israeli co-investor.
“If Mubadala were to invest in you as a favor in exchange for your acting as a UAE agent, would you expect them to threaten to withdraw?” said Schachter
“Probably not,” Barrack replied.
Mubadala did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside of Emirati business hours.
Questioned by Schachter, Barrack said he urged the then-president to use the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “leverage” for Saudi Arabia to end the blockade on Qatar that began in 2017.
Barrack’s statement in Qatar’s interests could undermine the accusations he made at the behest of the UAE. Barrack is not accused of acting as a Saudi agent, but the country is close with the UAE, which has implemented a blockade with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others.
During a phone call with Trump in October 2018, following Khashoggi’s murder at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey, he said he urged the then-president to use global anger over the murder “as a leverage over this stupid blockade”.
US intelligence said the murder of Khashoggi, an inside critic of Saudi Arabia, was confirmed by the de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The prince denied the order to kill, but acknowledged that it took place “under my watch.”
report by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Noeleen Walder
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