A former business associate of Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy has spoken with FBI agents about his business dealings, The Daily Beast has learned.
Lisa Korbatov, a wealthy pro-Israel activist with deep roots in the L.A. Republican community, expects to be further interviewed by prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Washington headquarters in the coming months, according to an individual familiar with the case. A second source familiar with the situation confirmed DOJ’s interest in Korbatov. She expects questions about her work with Broidy and about Donald Trump’s inauguration, the first source said.
Korbatov is the first of Broidy’s former business associates known to have spoken with the FBI about the venture capitalist and global security entrepreneur. At least one of his political allies—Steve Wynn, a fellow Republican National Committee fundraiser and longtime Trump friend—is cooperating with investigators as they scrutinize Broidy, according to The Washington Post.
Broidy was a top fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and inaugural committee. He resigned from his post as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chair last April after news broke that he paid off a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an affair. The Playmate reportedly had an abortion after he impregnated her.
One prosecutor inquiring about Broidy is also working on the Justice Department’s case against 1MDB, Malaysia’s investment development fund; last November, DOJ charged financier Low Taek Jho with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from the fund. The Justice Department alleges that fund officials and associates misappropriated and fraudulently diverted $4.5 billion from the fund between 2009 and 2014. Low and others then conspired to bribe foreign officials and to “launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the U.S. financial system,” according to DOJ.
A Justice Department civil forfeiture complaint refers to a person involved in Low’s scheme as “Individual 1,” which matches Broidy’s description, as Bloomberg has noted. And The Wall Street Journal reported that Broidy entered talks about earning tens of millions of dollars if the Justice Department stopped investigating Low.
Spokespersons for the inaugural committee, Broidy, and Korbatov all declined to comment on the record.
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are scrutinizing the way the inaugural committee spent the record-high level of money it raised, per The Wall Street Journal. And, according to The New York Times, they are also looking into potential efforts by foreign nationals to funnel money to the committee in hopes of influencing the incoming Trump administration. The Southern District asked questions about these matters before Special Counsel Robert Mueller finished his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported last August that the DOJ was investigating whether Broidy offered to arrange Trump administration actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars. The Korbatov questioning points to ongoing Justice Department interest in Broidy.
Korbatov and Broidy both signed on to a project seeking business in Angola, according to Mother Jones:
On December 7, 2016, Broidy, [well-wired Nigerian-American businessman Dolapo] Asiru, and Korbatov signed a memorandum of agreement related to a joint venture called BCH Development Group. A later amendment to this memorandum noted that Korbatov would get a finder’s fee of 3 percent for any security contract negotiated by the Republic of Angola and Circinus, a security firm Broidy owned. And Asiru would pocket 30 percent.
BCH also pursued a huge oil deal in Angola, per Mother Jones, which added that Korbatov was unaware of that effort. That deal did not come to fruition.
A person familiar with Broidy and Korbatov’s relationship said the BCH matter was the only formal business dealing between the two.
While Broidy’s Angola efforts were underway, he invited top government officials to events celebrating Trump’s inauguration, according to a New York Times story citing emails that appear to have been hacked.
Broidy has alleged in court filings that the government of Qatar sponsored the hacks because he has been one of its most vocal critics.
Besides signing on to the Angola joint venture, Korbatov has drawn attention for her passionate activism against efforts to build an L.A. subway—in particular, a plan to have it tunnel under a Beverly Hills school.
“She’s warned that students could be incinerated by exploding underground gases, poisoned or given cancer by seeping fumes, because the subway will run through the old oil fields that lie beneath much of West L.A. They might be targeted by terrorists attracted by the subway line,” Reveal News reported. “Perhaps the school itself will be demolished because of a subterranean construction accident while the tunnel is being built, she has claimed.”
Broidy, who has not been charged with any crime, isn’t the only person to help Trump become president and then draw DOJ attention. Michael Cohen, the president’s estranged ex-lawyer, helped facilitate Broidy’s payment to the Playboy Playmate. He will start serving a three-year prison sentence, in part for crimes related to a different sex scandal pay-off, next month.