WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors cited the involvement of a onetime top fund-raiser to President Trump on Friday in a scheme to launder millions of dollars into the country to help a flamboyant Malaysian financier end a Justice Department investigation.
Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles-based businessman who was a finance vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration committees, was paid to lobby the Trump administration to try to end an investigation related to the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a Malaysian state-owned fund, according to court filings made public on Friday.
The filings were released in connection with a guilty plea entered by George Higginbotham, a former Justice Department employee. Mr. Higginbotham admitted to conspiring to lie to banks about the source of tens of millions of dollars he funneled into the United States from the Malaysian financier Jho Low, who federal authorities say masterminded a scheme to loot the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund, also known as 1MDB.
Mr. Higginbotham, who left the Justice Department in August, was not involved in the department’s investigation of Mr. Low, and is cooperating with prosecutors.
The charging papers and supporting documents do not identify Mr. Broidy or his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, by name, and neither has been charged with a crime. But the facts of the case align with previous reporting on Mr. Broidy’s efforts related to 1MDB, as well as emails from Mr. Broidy that were stolen from Ms. Rosenzweig’s account and disseminated to news outlets that match emails cited in Friday’s court filings. And people with knowledge of the case said that Mr. Broidy was the person identified in the filings as “Person 1” or “Individual 1,” who is described as “a nonlawyer business owner” who “owns several businesses, including an investment firm.”
In a brief interview on Friday, Mr. Broidy did not deny that the filings refer to him. But he referred specific questions to his lawyer, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2009 in an unrelated pension fund bribery case, is one of several Trump associates whose business with foreign governments and figures has attracted scrutiny, including from investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
A veteran Republican fund-raiser who also owns a defense contracting firm, Mr. Broidy had seemed positioned to become a highly influential figure in a political hierarchy that was upended by Mr. Trump’s victory. Mr. Broidy had started raising money for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign at a time when most elite Republican donors were staying away. After Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Broidy marketed his connection to the new administration to politicians, businessmen and governments around the world, including some with unsavory records, and won big contracts for his defense firm.
The continuing case of Mr. Low and 1MDB is complex, with federal prosecutors unsealing an indictment against him and an associate in November, and extracting a guilty plea from a former Goldman Sachs banker who was involved in bribes and kickbacks related to 1MDB bond work. Mr. Broidy’s involvement, which predates Mr. Low’s indictment, underscores both Mr. Low’s efforts to navigate the United States judicial system, and the far-flung nature of Mr. Broidy’s business pursuits in the early days of the Trump administration.
In March 2017, Mr. Low’s associates were looking to retain “someone with political influence,” according to a Friday filing. Their goal was to help him deflect efforts by American authorities to seize assets bought with money he was accused of siphoning from 1MDB, and to end the Justice Department investigation into his activities, according to the filings. They indicate that, after Mr. Low expressed interest in hiring Mr. Broidy and Ms. Rosenzweig’s law firm, Mr. Michel met with Mr. Broidy and an associate “and explained Jho Low’s situation in the 1MDB matters.”