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Trump pardoned an American involved in 1MDB. Will it affect investigations in Malaysia?

On the other side of the world, the Americans recently celebrated the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. And that could mean one thing for former President Donald Trump…

He’s technically not fired but we just wanna use this image from Amazon.

But just hours before Biden’s inauguration, Trump decided to commute the sentences (aka lessened the penalty) of 70 people and pardon 73 people, ranging from rapper Lil Wayne to financiers and even lobbyists. You can check out the full list here but one of the people he pardoned attracted our attention – Elliott Broidy.  

Some of you may have heard of him before, but if you haven’t (we don’t judge anyways)…


Broidy tried stopping US investigations into 1MDB

If his name doesn’t ring a bell, well, that’s probably because Broidy wasn’t really the main guy in the whole 1MDB saga like Najib or Jho Low. But he would’ve played an important role in this story had he not failed. So, what did he do?

Broidy and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig. Img from The Wall Street Journal

In early May 2017, Jho Low had apparently gotten acquainted with Broidy, who was the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee (aka Trump’s fundraiser) at that time. Since Broidy had close connections to the people in Trump’s administration, Jho Low had paid him $9 million (or $8 million) to use his position to lobby the govt and Department of Justice to stop investigating 1MDB

On top of that amount of money, Jho Low had also offered a whopping $75 million (RM303 million) to Broidy if the DOJ stopped looking into the 1MDB scandal. However, Broidy failed in executing the plan.

But that didn’t stop Jho Low because, on 18th May 2017, he apparently came up with another idea to secure his position in China. He allegedly wanted to extradite Guo Wengui, a China businessman living in the US, who is wanted for being vocal against the China govt. 

Guo, with his dog. Img from The New York Times Magazine

Seeing how he couldn’t perform this task alone, he then met with a Chinese minister and Broidy in a hotel in China. Broidy was allegedly asked to use his high-ranking position to assist the extradition of Guo to China. However, just as with his first mission, Broidy wasn’t able to fulfil Jho Low’s request

Not only did the plan fail, Broidy, who quit from his position in 2018, also kena kantoi by the US govt. He was charged in October 2020 for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) when he lobbied the govt on behalf of Jho Low and to advocate the extradition of Guo. 

Why do small town voters always choose BN? We asked them!

Although he pleaded guilty to his charges, Broidy was recently pardoned by Trump. His pardon was backed by 21 high-key individuals like current House Republicans Devin Nunes and Jack Bergman. Besides, the Trump administration cited Broidy’s philanthropic efforts on behalf of the military and veteran programmes, among others, for pardoning him.

But many Americans, especially legal experts, are concerned about how Broidy, among many others, were pardoned without even applying for it.

But it seems like not everyone’s as lucky as Broidy… Screenshot from @TMZ Twitter

Despite that, this could mean one thing for Broidy – he’s a free man as of now. Unless Trump decides to reverse his pardon but that is highly unlikely.

Ok, enough about Broidy.


So, how will this affect 1MDB trials in Malaysia?

Easy answer: Nope, it will not affect anything at all.

Upon learning about Broidy, we can’t help but to wonder – how will this affect any 1MDB investigations or trials that are currently ongoing? Is the same gonna happen to, say, Najib and the gang? We contacted lawyer Fahri Azzat to find out more about this.

Much to our surprise, Fahri told us that Broidy’s pardon will not affect any ongoing investigations or trials related to 1MDB, whether in the US or Malaysia. In fact, he believes that it should also not affect both countries’ efforts in probing into Jho Low. But why?

“A pardon only happens after someone is convicted of an offence and it operates to ‘forgive’ the offence. And for this reason, it does not affect any of the investigations that are on-going and decide to prosecute.” – Fahri to CILISOS.

Jho Low finding out that Malaysia and the US are still looking for him. Unedited images from mStar and Nice PNG

But what about the public’s perception on the ongoing 1MDB investigations and trials in Malaysia… or even the US? Well, Fahri highlighted that pardons are not just randomly given to any convicted person.

“I think that a person convicted of a crime should only be pardoned in the most exceptional of circumstances because it means all the time, money and effort spend to convict that person has been, from a practical sense, wasted.” – Fahri.

Having said that, it seems like the Malaysian govt will still be looking for ways to bring Jho Low back and we will still be seeing Najib’s 1MDB trials soon. Initially, Najib’s 1MDB trial was set to resume in February 2021 due to MCO 2.0 but, as of the time of writing, it seems as though the trial will be resumed on January 27th 2021 despite the MCO.

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