The co-director of a Maryland-based research group who 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 in the Southern District of New York accused Gal Luft, a dual US-Israeli citizen, of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the US Registration Act. foreign agents in brokering arms deals between Chinese companies, Iran and countries in the Middle East.
Mr. Luft, promoted by some Republicans in Congress as a key witness in their efforts to expose the Biden family’s corruption, is a fugitive from justice. He was arrested by law enforcement officials in Cyprus in February in connection with the charge, but fled after being freed on bail pending extradition. If convicted, he faces up to 100 years in prison.
« He subverted foreign agent registration laws in the United States to try to promote Chinese policies, » said Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, 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 says he only became a subject of Justice Department scrutiny after discussing the Hunter Biden investigation with prosecutors who met with him in Belgium in 2019.
But prosecutors painted a picture of Mr. Luft, who split his time between Israel and Washington, as an unscrupulous political fixer who worked for China and made much of his money as an arms and oil broker.
Mr. Luft, prosecutors said, helped Chinese arms makers sell anti-tank launchers, grenade launchers and mortar shells to Libya (he called them toys in government-obtained communications), bombs and rockets to the UAE, and drones military in Kenya. He told an associate that US officials’ reluctance to sell weapons to Kenya provided them with an « opportunity » for profit, prosecutors said.
It also carved out a transaction middleman role to broker oil sales from Iran, in violation of US sanctions, by ordering a business associate to refer to the products as Brazilian oil, the government accused. In one case, Mr. Luft received a letter explicitly telling him that a shipment of oil was Iranian but had to be « presented as originating in the United Arab Emirates with no Iranian documents, » according to the filing.
At the same time, according to the Justice Department, he was using his position as co-director of the Institute for Global Security Analysis in Gaithersburg, Md., to exert political influence on behalf of Beijing.
In late 2016, Mr. Luft recruited and paid an unnamed former US government official who was serving as an adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump as part of a larger effort to « publicly endorse certain policies » pro-China, wrote the prosecutors in their filing.
In a video published by the New York Post last week, said Mr. Luft — without offering evidence — that he notified Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials of wrongdoing by the Biden family, resulting in what he called his persecution.
Rep. James R. Comer, Republican from Kentucky and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, recently described Mr. Luft as a « very credible witness on Biden family corruption » and said he hoped to interview him, regardless of the government’s allegations.
Shortly before the indictment was opened, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and Trump supporter, said in an interview with Fox Business that Luft’s work on behalf of Chinese energy companies has given him a « wealth of information on Biden. He has not provided any evidence for that claim.
Mr Johnson accused federal prosecutors of filing a lawsuit against Mr Luft « to silence him, » and said the researcher – who he said was hiding in Israel – should be granted immunity from prosecution to testify before Congress.
Democrats said Mr. Comer and other Republicans have shown they are willing to do anything to vilify the Bidens, even going so far as to take the word of a man accused of being a Chinese agent and illegal arms dealer above that of the law federal enforcement officers.
« These recent revelations naturally raise serious concerns that alleged ‘whistleblowers’ of Republicans in Congress are manipulating them by tailoring disinformation to support the baseless and baseless allegations made by President Comer, » said Rep. Dan Goldman, a Democrat. of New York who served as chief adviser to the House Intelligence Committee during Trump’s first impeachment.