Ex-US official admits part in multimillion-dollar conspiracy

WASHINGTON — A former Justice Department official has admitted his role in a multimillion-dollar effort to try to get the United States to drop its investigation into a money laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions from a Malaysian investment fund.

George Higginbotham pleaded guilty Friday in Washington.

Prosecutors say he was part of a conspiracy to pay an influential person to pressure officials to drop their probe of the fund known as 1MDB. That person was not identified.

They say Higginbotham helped open bank accounts and created false loan documents for shell companies in order to pay that person and conceal the involvement of a co-conspirator, who also was unidentified.

Prosecutors say the co-conspirator was an architect of 1MDB and because of that, banks wouldn't do business with him directly.

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