LIZ Truss’s chief of staff has been interviewed by the FBI regarding an alleged criminal plot to bribe an American politician and influence a US election.
Mark Fullbrook ran Truss’s leadership campaign and has advised foreign governments and prime ministers including Boris Johnson, Margaret Thatcher and Sir John Major.
The Sunday Times reports that Fullbrook was involved in an alleged conspiracy to subvert the democracy of Puerto Rico – a US administered island in the Caribbean.
Fullbrook, 60, was made a formal subject of a US Department of Justice (DoJ) and FBI investigation this year, meaning that federal investigators were interested in his conduct.
In April, the FBI approached Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Metropolitan Police to help secure Fullbrook’s attendance for a formal interview.
He agreed after he was approached by Scotland Yard with his company subpoenaed and forced to hand over sensitive emails.
Truss’s chief of staff has since signed an agreement with the FBI and is co-operating with them as a witness.
The investigation is looking into allegations of a bribe by the London-based owner of a Puerto Rican bank and Conservative Party donor Julio Herrera Velutini.
Prosecutors allege that Velutini, 50, allegedly promised Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced $300,000 for her re-election campaign so long as the head of the island’s financial regulator was sacked.
Domestic records show Velutini has donated over £650,000 to the Conservative Party between December 2019 and June 2022.
It is understood that Velutini was not eligible to donate to a US election and did not want the deal to become known.
As such, he paid the money to CT Group, an Australian-British lobbying firm with links to centre-right parties across the globe.
It supported Vázquez Garced, a Donald Trump-supporting Republican, in her unsuccessful re-election bid in 2020.
Fullbrook, who was CT’s chief global projects officer at the time, took the lead. According to prosecutors, he flew to Puerto Rico to tell Vázquez Garced how he could help her win the election, provided her with a strategy and brokered secret payments between Velutini and CT.
Last month, the DoJ charged Vázquez Garced and Velutini with crimes that could see them face up to 20 years in prison although both deny any wrongdoing.
On August 4, the day Vázquez Garced was arrested and charged, Kenneth Polite Jr, an assistant attorney-general at the DoJ said: “The alleged bribery scheme rose to the highest levels of the Puerto Rican government, threatening public trust in our electoral processes and institutions of governance.”
The Sunday Times reports that Whitehall officials are aware of the allegations against Fullbrook and that some have expressed concerns about whether he will be able to obtain top level security clearance.
One source told the newspaper that his involvement in the FBI inquiry posed “countless problems”.
A Fullbrook spokesman said he was “committed to and complies with all laws and regulations in any jurisdiction in which he works and is confident he has done so in this matter”.
They added that the chief of staff had “fully” and “completely” engaged with authorities.
They continued: “The work was engaged only by Mr Herrera [Velutini] … and no one else. Mr Fullbrook never did any work for nor presented any research findings to the governor or her campaign.”