The co-director of a Maryland-based research group that claims to have damaging information about Hunter Biden has been charged with arms smuggling, sanctions violations and acting as an unregistered agent for China, according to federal indictment unsealed on Monday.
In an eight-count indictment, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Gal Luft, a dual US-Israeli citizen, with violating the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act in brokering arms deals between Chinese companies, Iran and countries. in the Middle East.
Mr. Luft, promoted by some congressional Republicans as a key witness in their efforts to expose corruption by the Biden family, is a fugitive from justice. He was arrested by police in Cyprus in February in connection with the allegation, but fled after being released on bond pending extradition. If convicted, he faces up to 100 years in prison.
“He undermined foreign agent registration laws in the United States to try to advance Chinese policies,” said Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, adding: “He acted as a broker in deals on dangerous weapons and Iranian oil, and he said. multiple lies about his crimes to law enforcement.”
Mr. Luft has denied any wrongdoing, and maintains that he only became the subject of the Justice Department’s scrutiny after discussing the Hunter Biden investigation with prosecutors who met with him in Belgium in 2019.
But prosecutors painted a portrait of Mr. Luft, who split his time between Israel and Washington, as an unscrupulous political fixer working for China, who made much of his cash as a back-channel arm and oil broker.
Mr. Luft, prosecutors said, helped Chinese arms manufacturers sell anti-tank launchers, grenade launchers and mortars to Libya (he called them toys in communications obtained by the government), bombs and rockets to the United Arab Emirates and military drones. to Kenya He told an associate that U.S. officials’ reluctance to sell weapons to Kenya provided them with an “opportunity” for profit, prosecutors said.
He also developed a role as an intermediary in transactions to broker sales of oil from Iran, in violation of US sanctions, by ordering a trading partner to call the products Brazilian crude, the government charged. In one instance, Mr. Luft received a letter telling him explicitly that a shipment of the oil was Iranian but that it should be “presented as originating in the UAE without Iranian papers,” according to the filing.
At the same time, he used his position as co-director of the Institute for Global Security Analysis in Gaithersburg, Md., to exert political influence on behalf of Beijing, according to the Justice Department.
In late 2016, Mr. Luft recruited and paid an unnamed former U.S. government official who acted as an adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump as part of a larger effort to “publicly support certain policies” favorable to China, prosecutors wrote in. their filing.
In a video published by The New York Post last week, Mr. Luft claimed — without offering evidence — that he tipped off Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials about wrongdoing by the Biden family, prompting what he portrayed as his persecution.
Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, recently described Mr. Luft as a “very credible witness on the corruption of the Biden family” and said he hoped to interview him, regardless of the government’s allegations.
Shortly before the indictment was unsealed, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin and a supporter of Mr. Trump, said in an interview with Fox Business that Mr. Luft’s work on behalf of Chinese energy companies had given him “a wealth of information.” about the Bidens. He provided no evidence for this claim.
Mr Johnson accused federal prosecutors of bringing the case against Mr Luft “to silence him”, and said the researcher – who he suggested was hiding in Israel – should be given immunity from prosecution to testify before Congress.
Democrats said Mr. Comer and other Republicans had shown they were willing to go to great lengths to smear the Bidens, even going so far as to accept the word of a man accused of being a Chinese agent and illegal arms dealer over that of federal law. executive officers
“These recent revelations naturally raise serious concerns that the so-called ‘whistleblowers’ of congressional Republicans are manipulating them with a tailor-made disinformation campaign to support baseless and baseless allegations made by President Comer,” said Representative Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat who served as the leader. counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.