DOJ Secures Guilty Plea From Hawaii Businesswoman For FARA Violation

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced on August 31, 2020, that a businesswoman who attempted to influence U.S. officials to drop civil forfeiture proceedings and a criminal investigation into the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia pleaded guilty to a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”).

According to DOJ, Nickie Mali Lum Davis of Honolulu, Hawaii, along with her coconspirators, was paid at least $3 million by Foreign National A to lobby the President of the United States, the Attorney General, and other high level officials in the administration and the DOJ to drop civil forfeiture proceedings and a criminal investigation into the embezzlement of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a strategic investment and development company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia.

Lum Davis and others also agreed to lobby the Administration and Justice Department on behalf of Foreign National A and People’s Republic of China (PRC) Minister A, to arrange for the removal and return of Chinese exile Guo Wengui — a dissident living in the United States.  According to a Washington Post report, Lum Davis admitted in a charging document to aiding and abetting the efforts of two others involved in the influence campaigns, whom people familiar with the matter identified as former Fugees rapper Pras Michel and longtime GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, respectively. Lum Davis’s efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

Lum Davis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting a violation of FARA. As part of the agreement, she agreed to forfeit the $3 million she was paid. The case marks the eighth guilty plea DOJ has secured for a FARA violation since 2010.