Chinese agent didn’t disclose meeting with top advisers to NYC Mayor Eric Adams

NEW YORK — Two of Mayor Eric Adams’ top advisers met in spring 2022 with a businessman who had months earlier registered as an agent for China’s government, but the executive didn’t disclose the sitdown to U.S. authorities, a reporting lapse that could raise legal concerns, the New York Daily News has learned.

Robin Mui, CEO of Sing Tao, a Chinese-owned media organization with offices in New York, said in a recent interview he didn’t inform the feds of his April 18, 2022, meeting with Adams advisers Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Winnie Greco because he doesn’t agree with the U.S. Justice Department’s determination that he’s a Chinese agent.

“I don’t disclose any meetings. I am a newspaper man, and I meet a lot of people,” said Mui. Despite his contention, Mui has been registered as a Chinese government agent since 2021, federal records show.

Steve Roberts, an expert in the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, which imposes disclosure obligations on foreign agents, said it’s a “big gamble” for Mui to be “openly defiant” of the Justice Department’s reporting requirements in such a way. Even if Mui disagrees with the department’s determination that he’s an agent, the feds consider him one and thereby expect him under the FARA law to disclose any formal meetings he holds with U.S. public officials, Roberts said.

“The Justice Department does not care if you see the statute a different way. To not report activity even though you know there’s an obligation would seem to fall under the ‘knowing and willful’ definition,” Roberts said, referring to a section in the law that says foreign agents who knowingly omit “a material fact” from their disclosures can face a $10,000 fine and prison.

The meeting took place at Sing Tao’s office on Lafayette St. in SoHo, according to Lewis-Martin’s detailed daily schedules obtained by The News via a Freedom of Information Law request.

Mui, who’s an Adams campaign donor, described the confab as a “friendly gathering” and said he couldn’t recall specific issues they discussed.

Adams spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak said Greco and Lewis-Martin met with Mui to talk about ethnic media engagement between Adams’ administration and Sing Tao, but wouldn’t say whether they knew he was a foreign agent before their sitdown.

The Justice Department’s FARA unit didn’t return a request for comment.

Revelations about the Mui meet come after FBI agents raided Greco’s two Bronx homes in February as part of a federal investigation.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to the Daily News this week the probe is scrutinizing trips Greco and Adams took to China that were partially paid by China’s Communist government. The investigation’s reportedly also looking into Greco’s role in hosting fundraisers for Adams’ 2021 campaign that drew contributions that have sparked straw donor concerns.

Greco didn’t return a request for comment on word that the feds are looking at her trips to China with the mayor.

Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said the trips, which the mayor went on while Brooklyn borough president, was cleared by the city Conflicts of Interest Board.

The Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which is leading the Greco probe, declined to comment on the Mui meeting.

Neither Greco nor anyone else in the mayor’s orbit have been accused of wrongdoing by the feds.

Before joining Adams’ administration as his Asian community liaison, Greco was a consultant for New York-based influence groups that receive funding from China’s regime.

Greco, who along with Lewis-Martin is one of Adams’ longest-serving advisers, returned to work at City Hall in May after going on paid sick leave following the FBI raids.

At the time of his sitdown with Lewis-Martin and Greco, Mui had been a registered Chinese agent for nearly eight months.

The Justice Department ordered Mui and Sing Tao to register in August 2021 after determining the company’s U.S. operations constitute foreign government influence activity. The U.S. government’s determination that Sing Tao’s a foreign agent came after the daughter of a billionaire member of the Chinese Communist Party’s political arm bought a majority stake in the company in the summer of 2021.

Mui has other connections to Adams’ orbit.

Between 2015 and 2016, Mui gave $1,250 to Adams’ Brooklyn borough president campaign. He also gave another $3,000 to his nascent mayoral bid in 2019, $1,000 of which was returned due to contribution limits, city records show.

Mui also surfaced in the headlines this spring when Newsweek reported he and Greco are the organizers of the city’s Asian-American heritage parade, which first took place in Manhattan in spring 2022 after Adams granted it status as an annual event. Several Chinese-Americans who are critical of China’s government told the outlet they were barred from participating in the parade due to their political views.

After authorizing the parade, Adams marched in it in both 2022 and 2023 alongside Huang Ping, China’s consul general in New York.

The Greco investigation’s among several law enforcement inquiries touching on Adams’ inner circle.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office is separately investigating allegations that Turkey’s government funneled illegal money into Adams’ 2021 campaig. As part of that probe, FBI agents last November seized Adams’ cell phones and raided the homes of two longtime aides.

Adams hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing in that investigation, either.

Among the episodes the feds are scrutinizing in the Turkey probe is Adams’ role in helping resolve building safety issues at the Turkish Consulate in Manhattan that threatened to delay the building’s opening in summer 2021. Adams, who was at the time the Democratic mayoral nominee, has confirmed he helped Turkish Consul General Reyhan Özgür, but argues there was nothing untoward about that.

Lewis-Martin’s schedule entries show she met for dinner with Özgür on July 7, 2022, at the Turkish Consulate on First Ave. Mamelak declined to say what they talked about, but said it’s common for Lewis-Martin to meet with consul generals.