Win McNames/Getty Images; AP
- The Justice Department is investigating if Malaysian businessman Jho Low donated to the Trump Victory committee, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- The group raises money for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.
- Low pulled off one of the biggest financial scams of all time, according to authorities, stealing around $4.5 billion from the Malaysian government.
- The donation was allegedly funneled through a US citizen who took a $1.5 million investment from Low.
- Low has tried to lobby the Trump administration over the investigation into him.
The US Department of Justice is investigating whether the Trump Victory committee indirectly took a $100,000 donation from Jho Low, who the department believes pulled off the biggest financial scam of all time, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Low has been a fugitive from the United States since November 2018, and is believed to be living in China. The Justice Department and Malaysian government believe he pulled off a scam that involved convincing the prime minister of Malaysia to form a sovereign wealth fund — called 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB — and then siphoning off that money to himself through a complex series of bank accounts maneuvers.
Low ultimately stole around $4.5 billion, "more liquid cash than almost anyone on earth," according to "Billion Dollar Whale," the definitive book on Low’s alleged crimes. He spent it on lavish parties, apartments, and investments, as well as gifts to celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Kerr, and Kim Kardashian.
The Justice Department is investigating whether the Trump Victory committee, an organization that raises money for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the Republican National Committee, took $100,000 of that stolen money in December 2017, according to the Journal.
The Trump Victory committee is run by Republican Party officials and friends of President Trump, including Reince Priebus, Steven Mnuchin, and Elliott Brody. Brody is himself under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from 1MDB and using his position to sell government influence, and has been accused of sexual abuse by a former mistress.
AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
It’s against federal law for foreigners to donate to US politicians or their fundraising organizations. The Justice Department believes Low may have made the payment to the Trump Victory committee through Larry Davis, a US citizen who owns a capital investment company, according to the Journal. Low gave Davis’s investment company $1.5 million a few months before the donation.
Low denies all wrongdoing. In an email to the Journal, he said he didn’t know anything about Davis or the donation, but then "asked The Wall Street Journal to ignore his first message, saying it was meant for his lawyers," the Journal reported.
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
This is not the first time Low has apparently tried to lobby Trump.
Low has hired former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Trump’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers, and former Trump Organization lawyer Bobby Burchfield to represent him in the Justice Department investigation. He has also discussed the case with Erik Prince, a Trump associate and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to the Journal.
And in late November, a former Justice Department employee pleaded guilty to helping Low funnel tens of millions of dollars into the United States to finance lobbying efforts in an attempt to stop the investigations into him.
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