U.S Attorney Announces Charges Against Co-Director of Maryland Think Tank for Acting as an Unregistered Foreign Agent

The United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York announced last week charges against Gal Luft, a dual U.S.-Israeli Citizen, for willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), arms trafficking, Iranian sanctions violations, and making false statements to federal agents. Luft was arrested in Cyprus in February and subsequently fled after being released on bail. He remains a fugitive.

Luft served for years as a co-director of a Maryland think-tank and is alleged to have subverted FARA rules to promote Chinese policies by acting as an agent of China-based principals. Without filing the necessary FARA registration statements, Luft is alleged to have recruited and delivered payments on behalf of China-based principals to a former high-ranking U.S. government official, to publicly support certain policies with respect to China. The high-ranking official was not identified, but is alleged to have received payments in 2016 while serving as an advisor to then President-elect Trump. Luft is alleged to have conspired with a Chinese national to create a manufactured “dialogue” between the government official and the Chinese national. In these dialogues, the government official provided responses, written by Luft, which were favorable to China. The dialogue was then published in Chinese newspapers and sent to journalists and professors in the U.S., with the goal of “letting people know” that the government official was in “the corridor of power.” Luft and the Chinese national are also alleged to have discussed different roles the government official might have in the new administration and the “supremely unique opportunity to China” it could be, as well as the possibility of the government official taking a “silent trip” to China.

Luft also is alleged to have conspired with others in an attempt to broker illicit arms transactions and Iranian oil sales with certain Chinese individuals and entities. Without a license to do so as required under the Arms Export Control Act, Luft is alleged to have engaged in brokering deals for Chinese companies to sell weapons to Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, and Qatar. He is also alleged to have conspired with others to broker deals for Iranian Oil, which he referred to as “Brazilian oil” in an effort to conceal the activity. Specifically, Luft is alleged to have solicitated Chinese buyers for Iranian oil, offered to falsify paperwork to hide the origin of the oil, and set up meetings between representatives of Iranian oil and Chinese energy companies.

For more information regarding FARA, please contact us using our online form.

An Informational Resource in a New Era of Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement.



Jump to Page

We use cookies to make your experience of our website better. By continuing to browse this site you consent to the use of cookies. Please visit our Privacy Policy for more information.