A confidant and informal adviser to former US President Donald Trump is to go on trial after being accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the UAE.
Billionaire Thomas Barrack, a Los Angeles based private equity executive who served as a Trump campaign adviser and chair of his inaugural committee is thought to have engaged in unlawful lobbying of the Trump administration on behalf of the Gulf state.
According to the New York Times, the case is expected to last into next month after jury selection began yesterday in the US District Court in Brooklyn. The Times added that the trial "could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration."
Federal prosecutors say Barrack sought to use his influence to further the interests of the UAE. He was also seeking money from the rulers for investment funds, including one intended to support projects to advance Trump's agenda, the prosecution said.
Barrack has been out on $250 million bond following his arrest in July last year when he was charged with acting as an undisclosed foreign agent for the UAE, obstruction of justice and repeatedly lying to the FBI about his activities.
Both Barrack and an employee, Matthew Grimes, have denied wrongdoings while a third suspect, Emirati businessman Rashid Al-Malik who was living in the US at the time, remains at large.
CBS News reported that the indictment includes text messages and emails exchanged between Al-Malik and Barrack. In one email, Barrack informed Al-Malik about a TV interview he had done: "I nailed it…for the home team," Barrack allegedly wrote. Prosecutors believe "the home team" referred to the UAE.