(Bloomberg)—Rick Gates, charged today with multiple counts of money laundering, tax fraud and illegal foreign lobbying, was fired by real estate company Colony NorthStar Inc., where he had been a consultant to Executive Chairman Tom Barrack.
Barrack, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump and chairman of his inaugural committee, said he hired Gates in March to advise on potential investments in and around the communications industry. His role was advising on “opportunities that may result from new legislation or regulatory reform,” specifically concerning tax, foreign affairs, trade and infrastructure, Barrack said in phone interviews. Gates’s employment was week to week, terminable on 24 hours’ notice.
“He was working on investigating and understanding the next set of opportunities in digital infrastructure: data centers, radio towers, communications technology, media,” Barrack said. “In all aspects of what he did for me he was competent, capable and reliable.”
Gates was charged together with Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign manager, in a 12-count indictment sought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Both men pleaded not guilty and were placed under house arrest.
Barrack met Gates during Trump’s presidential run and said he was impressed by his work as a member of the transition team in the weeks after the 2016 election. Barrack then hired Gates to work on the inauguration.
Asked about the charges against Gates and Manafort, Barrack said: “In the midst of such a major investigation, it’s inappropriate for me to have any comment until the process has finished its course.”
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