The co-head of a Maryland-based investigative group that claims to have damaging information about Hunter Biden has been charged with arms trafficking, sanctions violations and acting as an unregistered agent for China, according to a federal indictment open monday.
In an eight-count indictment, prosecutors for the Southern District of New York charged Gal Luft, a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, with violating the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act when negotiating arms deals. between Chinese companies, Iran and other countries. in the Middle East.
Promoted by some congressional Republicans as a key witness in their efforts to prove the corruption of the Biden family, Mr. Luft is a fugitive from justice. He was detained by law enforcement officials in Cyprus in February in connection with the indictment, but fled after being released on bail while awaiting extradition. If he is found guilty, he faces up to 100 years in prison.
“He subverted foreign agent registration laws in the United States to try to further Chinese policies,” Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said, adding: “He acted as a broker in deals for dangerous weapons and Iranian oil, and told multiple lies about his crimes to law enforcement.”
Mr Luft has denied any wrongdoing and claims he only came under Justice Department scrutiny after discussing the Hunter Biden investigation with prosecutors who met with him in Belgium in 2019.
But prosecutors painted a portrait of Luft, who divided his time between Israel and Washington, as an unscrupulous political broker who worked for China and made much of his money as a clandestine arms and oil broker.
Mr. Luft, prosecutors said, helped Chinese arms manufacturers sell anti-tank launchers, grenade launchers and mortar shells to Libya (he referred to them as toys in communications obtained by the government), bombs and rockets to the Emirates. United Arabs and military drones. to Kenya. He told an associate that the unwillingness of US officials to sell weapons to Kenya provided them with an “opportunity” to make a profit, prosecutors said.
It also played a role as broker in transactions to negotiate oil sales from Iran, in violation of US sanctions, by ordering a trading partner to refer to the products as Brazilian oil, the government charged. In one case, Mr. Luft received a letter explicitly telling him that an oil shipment was Iranian, but that it should “present itself as of United Arab Emirates origin without Iranian documents,” according to the filing.
At the same time, he was using his position as co-director of the Institute for Global Security Analysis in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to exert political influence on Beijing’s behalf, according to the Justice Department.
In late 2016, Luft recruited and paid an unidentified former US government official who was acting as an adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump as part of a larger effort to “publicly support certain pro-China policies,” they wrote. prosecutors in their presentation.
In a video published by The New York Post last week, Mr. Luft stated – without offering evidence – that he had informed officials of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the irregularities of the Biden family, which led to what he described as his persecution.
Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, recently described Luft as a “very credible witness to the corruption of the Biden family” and said he looked forward to interviewing him, regardless of the government’s allegations.
Shortly before the indictment was unsealed, Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and a Trump supporter, said in an interview with Fox Business that Luft’s work on behalf of Chinese energy companies provided him with a “plenty of information.” about Biden. He did not provide any evidence for that claim.
Johnson accused federal prosecutors of bringing the case against Luft “to silence him,” saying the investigator, whom he suggested was hiding in Israel, should be given immunity from prosecution to testify before Congress.
Democrats said Comer and other Republicans have shown they are willing to go to any lengths to smear the Bidens, even to the point of taking the word of a man accused of being a Chinese agent and illegal arms dealer above the law. federal law. law enforcement officials.
“These recent revelations naturally raise serious concerns that they are being manipulated by so-called ‘whistleblowers’ by Congressional Republicans by tailoring misinformation to support the baseless and unsubstantiated allegations made by Chairman Comer,” said Rep. Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat who served as lead counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during Trump’s first impeachment trial.