July 26 (UPI) -- Wealthy private equity investor Thomas Barrack, an ally of former President Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack entered the plea during an arraignment in U.S. District Court of Eastern District of New York in New York City after flying across the country from California, where he was arrested last week.
Judge Sanket Bulsara maintained Barrack's $250 million bond and ordered him not to travel on private aircraft. The financier was also forbidden from engaging in any domestic financial transactions worth more than $50,000 and was barred from any contact with officials from the UAE.
"Tom Barrack pled not guilty today -- he did that because he's innocent," defense attorney Matt Harrington told reporters. "The charges that were presented to him today are based on information that was presented and discussed at my conference room two years ago.
"He is innocent and we look forward to proving it in court."
Authorities asked for the high bail because, as "an extremely wealthy and powerful individual with substantial ties to Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia," he poses a "serious flight risk" to nations "that do not have extradition treaties with the United States."
Prosecutors have criminally charged Barrack with illegally lobbying Trump when he was president on issues benefiting the United Arab Emirates.
In a 46-page indictment, they alleged Barrack -- who was chairman of Trump's 2017 inaugural committee -- Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi conspired to act as agents of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018.
Barrack, 74, also faces charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal officials.
"The defendant is charged with extremely serious offenses based on conduct that strikes at the very heart of our democracy," U.S. Attorney Nathan Reilly wrote in a letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Donahue of California, saying Barrack used his influence as "a national media figure" to "further the interests of the UAE as directed by senior UAE officials and their intermediaries."
In addition to being a major real estate investor as the CEO of Colony Capital, Barrack has ties to the Hollywood film industry. In 2010, he led the acquisition of Miramax Films from Disney in partnership with Qatar's state investment authority, later selling the company to Qatari broadcaster beIN Media, Variety reported.
Barrack stepped down from his role as Colony's CEO in March.