القضاء الأميركي يدين الشاغوري وعرسان وبعقليني لهذا السبب/Lebanese-Nigerian Billionaire and Two Associates Resolve Federal Probe into Alleged Violations of Campaign Finance Laws/Foreign billionaire conspired to violate election law in straw donor scheme

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القضاء الأميركي يدين الشاغوري وعرسان وبعقليني… لهذا السبب
الكلمة اولاين/01 نيسان/2021

Lebanese-Nigerian Billionaire and Two Associates Resolve Federal Probe into Alleged Violations of Campaign Finance Laws

Foreign billionaire conspired to violate election law in straw donor scheme
Anna Massoglia/OpenSecrecy. Org/April 1, 2021
تقرير باللغة الإنكليزية يتناول ملف الملياردير اللبناني جيلبرت شاغوري القضائي المتعلق بالتآمر لخرق قانون الانتخابات الأميركي الخاص بالمانحين

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/lebanese-nigerian-billionaire-and-two-associates-resolve-federal-probe-alleged

The United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

U.S. Attorneys » Central District of California » News
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Lebanese-Nigerian Billionaire and Two Associates Resolve Federal Probe into Alleged Violations of Campaign Finance Laws
Chagoury DPA Arsan DPA Baaklini DPA LaHood NPA

LOS ANGELES – A Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire has resolved and two of his associates have agreed to resolve a federal investigation that they conspired to violate federal election laws by scheming to make illegal campaign contributions to U.S. presidential and congressional candidates, the Department of Justice announced today.

Gilbert Chagoury, 75, who presently resides in Paris, France, paid $1.8 million to resolve allegations that he, with the assistance of others, provided approximately $180,000 to individuals in the United States that was used to make contributions to four different federal political candidates in U.S. elections.

Chagoury, a foreign national prohibited by federal law from contributing to any U.S. elections, admitted he intended these funds to be used to make contributions to these candidates. He further admitted to making illegal conduit contributions – causing campaign contributions to be made in the name of another individual.

According to a deferred prosecution agreement with the government, Chagoury accepted responsibility for his role and conduct that resulted in violations of federal election contribution laws between June 2012 and March 2016 and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation. Chagoury entered into the agreement on October 19, 2019, and he paid the fine in December 2019.

Federal prosecutors entered into the deferred prosecution agreement considering, among other factors, Chagoury’s unique assistance to the U.S. government, his payment of a fine, Chagoury’s acceptance of responsibility for his actions, and his residence outside the United States.

Relatedly, two Chagoury associates – Joseph Arsan, 68, also of Paris, and Toufic Joseph Baaklini, 58, of Washington, D.C. – agreed to resolve allegations that they violated campaign contribution laws by assisting Chagoury in his illegal contributions. Arsan, a physician who worked as an assistant to Chagoury, admitted helping Chagoury reimburse others for contributions to political candidates. In 2014, Arsan – at Chagoury’s direction – wired $30,000 to a third party and indicated on the wire information form that the funds were for a “wedding gift,” when he knew or should have known that the funds were reimbursement for making a political contribution to a campaign fund for a federal elected official.

Arsan’s deferred prosecution agreement, which took effect in November 2020, also resolves a criminal investigation into his alleged tax violations in the years 2012 to 2016 stemming from his failure to report money he held in foreign bank accounts. Arsan agreed to pay $1.7 million in penalties to resolve the tax probe and to cooperate in the government’s investigation.

In his deferred prosecution agreement signed on March 1, 2021, Baaklini admitted to giving $30,000 in cash provided by Chagoury to an individual at a restaurant in Los Angeles who, along with others, later made campaign contributions to the 2016 campaign of a U.S. congressman. Baaklini also agreed to pay a $90,000 fine as part of his agreement and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation.

In a separate and unrelated matter, Ray LaHood, 75, who served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 2009 to 2013, paid a $40,000 fine to resolve a federal criminal investigation into LaHood’s conduct related to a $50,000 financial transaction between LaHood and Baaklini in June 2012.

LaHood, who at the time was suffering financial difficulties, admitted that in 2012 he accepted a $50,000 personal check from Baaklini – with the word “Loan” written in the check’s memo portion – and understood at the time that the money came from Chagoury. LaHood failed to disclose the $50,000 check on two government ethics forms as required because LaHood did not want to be associated with Chagoury. Later, LaHood also made misleading statements to FBI agents investigating Chagoury about the check and its source. As part of his non-prosecution agreement signed in December 2019, LaHood also agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation and repaid the $50,000 to Baaklini.

This matter was investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

These cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mack E. Jenkins, Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, and Aron Ketchel, also of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

Attachment(s):
Download Chagoury DPA
Download Arsan DPA
Download Baaklini DPA
Download LaHood NPA
Topic(s):
Public Corruption
Component(s):
USAO – California, Central
Contact:
Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)
ciaran.mcevoy@usdoj.gov
(213) 894-4465
Press Release Number:
21-057

القضاء الأميركي يدين الشاغوري وعرسان وبعقليني… لهذا السبب
الكلمة اولاين/01 نيسان/2021
أعلنت وزارة العدل الأميركية أن الملياردير اللبناني النيجيري جيلبرت شاغوري، اتفق مع اثنين من مساعديه على التعاون في تحقيق اتحادي يتهمهم بالتآمر لانتهاك قوانين الانتخابات الفيدرالية، عبر لتخطيط لتقديم مساهمات غير قانونية في الحملة الانتخابية لمرشحي الرئاسة والكونغرس. وفي التفاصيل، فقد دفع جيلبرت شاغوري ، 75 عامًا ، والذي يقيم حاليًا في باريس ، 1.8 مليون دولار لحل الادعاءات القائلة إنه قدم، بمساعدة الآخريْن، ما يقرب من 180 ألف دولار لأفراد في الولايات المتحدة، استخدمت لتقديم مساهمات لأربعة مرشحين سياسيين فيدراليين مختلفين في الانتخابات. هذا ويمنع القانون الفيدرالي، الشاغوري- كمواطن أجنبي، من المساهمة في أي انتخابات أميركية.
وقد قبل الشاغوري تحمّل المسؤولية عن دوره وسلوكه الذي أدى إلى انتهاكات لقوانين المساهمة في الانتخابات الفيدرالية بين حزيران 2012 وآذار 2016 ووافق على التعاون مع تحقيق الحكومة الأميركية، مع العلم أن الشاغوري دخل في الاتفاق في 19 تشرين الأول 2019 ، ودفع الغرامة في كانون الأول 2019.
إلى ذلك، وافق اثنان من مساعدي الشاغوري – وهما جوزيف عرسان وتوفيق جوزيف بعقليني على حل مزاعم انتهاك قوانين المساهمة في الحملة من خلال مساعدة الشاغوري في مساهماته غير القانونية. وقد اعترف عرسان، وهو طبيب عمل مساعدًا للشاغوري ، بمساعدة الأخير في تعويض الآخرين عن مساهماتهم في حملات المرشحين.
وفي التفاصيل، أرسل عرسان، بتوجيه من الشاغوري، 30 ألف دولار خلال 2014 إلى طرف ثالث وأشار إلى أن الأموال كانت مخصصة لـ “هدية زفاف”، فيما كان يعلم أن المبلغ كانت بمثابة تعويضات لتقديم مساهمة سياسية لصندوق حملة مسؤول فيدرالي منتخب.
يشار إلى أن اتفاقية الملاحقة القضائية المؤجلة التي أبرمها عرسان، والتي دخلت حيز التنفيذ في تشرين الثاني 2020، تتضمن أيضًا تحقيقًا جنائيًا في انتهاكاته الضريبية المزعومة في السنوات من 2012 إلى 2016 نتيجة عدم الإبلاغ عن الأموال التي كان يحتفظ بها في حسابات مصرفية أجنبية. وقد وافق عرسان على دفع 1.7 مليون دولار كغرامات لحل التحقيق الضريبي والتعاون في تحقيق الحكومة.
في سياق متصل، وضمن اتفاق الملاحقة القضائية المؤجل الموقع في 1 آذار 2021 ، اعترف بعقليني بمنح 30 ألف دولار نقدًا قدمها الشاغوري إلى فرد في لوس أنجلوس، قام مع آخرين بتقديم مساهمات في الحملة الانتخابية لأحد أعضاء الكونغرس عام 2016. كما وافق بعقليني على دفع غرامة قدرها 90 ألف دولار كجزء من اتفاقه ووافق على التعاون مع تحقيق الحكومة.
في مسألة منفصلة، دفع راي لحود، الذي شغل منصب وزير النقل الأميركي من 2009 إلى 2013، غرامة قدرها 40 ألف دولار لحل تحقيق جنائي اتحادي فيما يتعلق بصفقة مالية بقيمة 50000 دولار بين لحود وبعقليني في حزيران2012 .
وقد اعترف لحود، الذي كان يعاني في ذلك الوقت من صعوبات مالية، أنه قبل في عام 2012 شيكًا شخصيًا بقيمة 50000 دولار من بعقليني – مع كتابة كلمة “قرض” في جزء مذكرة الشيك – وفهم في ذلك الوقت أن الأموال جاءت من الشاغوري.
وفي وقت لاحق، أدلى لحود أيضًا بتصريحات مضللة لعملاء مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي الذين يحققون مع الشاغوري حول الشيك ومصدره. وكجزء من اتفاقية عدم الملاحقة القضائية التي تم توقيعها في كانون الأول 2019 ، وافق لحود أيضًا على التعاون مع تحقيق الحكومة وسداد مبلغ 50 ألف دولار إلى بعقليني. جرى التحقيق في هذه المسألة من قبل مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي ، والتحقيق الجنائي في مصلحة الضرائب ، ومكتب المفتش العام بوزارة النقل.


Foreign billionaire conspired to violate election law in straw donor scheme
Anna Massoglia/OpenSecrecy. Org/April 1, 2021
تقرير باللغة الإنكليزية يتناول ملف الملياردير اللبناني جيلبرت شاغوري القضائي المتعلق بالتآمر لخرق قانون الانتخابات الأميركي الخاص بالمانحين

A Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire agreed to pay the U.S. government $1.8 million to resolve allegations that he conspired to violate federal election laws in a “straw donor” scheme to route illegal foreign contributions to U.S. presidential and congressional candidates, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Gilbert Chagoury, a foreign national prohibited by federal law from making contributions to political groups or campaigns to influence U.S. elections, routed approximately $180,000 to the campaign committees of four U.S. candidates through straw donors over the course of three election cycles. He admitted the funds were intended to support candidates and was aware the contributions were made by giving his money under the name of another individual as illegal conduit contributions, according to court records.
The Justice Department’s release did not identify the donors and candidates by name but the amounts in court records match Federal Election Commission contribution records for the joint fundraising committee supporting the 2012 presidential bid of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as well as the campaigns of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and former Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), now a senior adviser at Kelley, Drye & Warren. The names of the recipient committees were first reported by Politico.
Federal prosecutors entered into the deferred prosecution agreement citing factors such as Chagoury’s “unique assistance to the U.S. government” and the massive fine he agreed to pay, the Justice Department noted. Two Chagoury associates entered into similar agreements.
Mark Corallo, former spokesperson for President Donald Trump’s private legal team in the Russia investigation, acted as Chagoury’s spokesperson since at least 2010. Corallo retroactively registered as a foreign agent of Chagoury in 2020 for influence operations promoting then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in connection with his 2015 re-election campaign.
Corallo’s firm routed funds through sub-vendors assisting with the foreign influence operations.
New World Group Public Affairs LLC, a lobbying firm run by former Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), was paid a $15,000 retainer to arrange meetings with members of Congress and congressional staffers. Black Bag LLC reported receiving $25,000 from Corallo’s firm but did not disclose how much of that work was for Chagoury or what other clients the LLC might have performed work for.
Lobbying firm Kivvit LLC did not report any receipts from Corallo in FARA records but disclosed managing a Twitter account, providing public relations advice and media monitoring as part of the operation.
A firm referred to as 4Impact LLC served as a liaison to Chagoury in the foreign influence efforts, according to the FARA records. Toufic Baaklini, one of Chagoury’s two associate’s listed in Justice Department filings, reported 4Impact LLC as his employer in FEC filings.
As part of his agreement with the Justice Department, Baaklini admitted giving $30,000 in cash provided by Chagoury to individuals who later made campaign contributions to the 2016 campaign of a U.S. congressman, according to his deferred prosecution agreement signed March 1.
Former Republican congressman from Illinois and Obama transportation secretary Ray LaHood agreed to pay a $40,000 fine to settle a separate and unrelated matter after admitting to taking an undisclosed $50,000 payment from Baaklini in 2012, first reported by Axios. LaHood told prosecutors he “understood at the time” that the money was actually coming from Chagoury and did not disclose the transaction in ethics filings despite being a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet at the time of the transaction.
Straw donor scheme not Chagory’s first brush with controversy
Chagoury was a top advisor to Nigerian head of state Sani Abacha, widely regarded as a dictator, and described by Nigeria’s top anti-corruption prosecutor as a “kingpin in the corruption that defined Abacha’s regime.”
Abacha diverted millions of dollars from Nigeria’s central bank to overseas bank accounts of his family and associates, including accounts under Chagoury’s control. In 2014, the Justice Department seized more than $480 million in corruption proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by Abacha and his co-conspirators, the largest forfeiture the department had ever obtained through a “kleptocracy action.”
Chagoury denied any involvement in the bribery case but he was known to work as an intermediary for Abacha, and Chagoury’s name was listed among attendees of meetings where bribes were allegedly discussed.
After Abacha died, Chagoury returned an estimated $300 million held in Swiss bank accounts to the Nigerian government to secure his immunity from prosecution in Nigeria. Chagoury was convicted of laundering money and aiding a criminal organization in a 2020 case in Geneva, Switzerland.
Corallo claims Chagoury has also been scrutinized due to his ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton after he spent years cultivating a close relationship with them, in part through large checks.
Chagoury gave $460,000 to Vote Now ’96, a tax-exempt voter registration group with close ties to the Democratic Party. The nonprofit was led by Democratic Party fundraisers and party officials regularly steered would-be campaign contributors to the group, which did not fully disclose its donors.
A few months after the donation, Chagoury and his family were guests at Clinton’s White House holiday dinner for top Democratic Party supporters. Chagoury did not donate to the party, as he was barred from doing so as a foreign national.
In 2003, Chagoury helped arrange a six-figure speaking fee for former President Clinton at a Caribbean event.
More than $1 million in contributions from Chagoury were disclosed by the Clinton Foundation in December 2008, the same month then President-elect Barack Obama’s appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was announced. The Clinton Foundation faced media scrutiny for accepting money from foreign governments and controversial donors with interest in swaying U.S. policy during Clinton’s time at State.
Longtime Clinton adviser and then head of the foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative Doug Band emailed Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, two of then secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, to ask for a diplomatic introduction for Chagoury in 2009. “As you know, he’s a key guy there and to us,” Band wrote in the emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Abedin responded with the name of the acting assistant secretary of state at that time, Jeffrey Feltman, adding “I’ll talk to Jeff.”
The Clinton Foundation’s revenue began to drop in 2016 due in part to the foundation’s restricted fundraising efforts as Clinton pursued her unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid but started growing again in 2019, the most recent year tax returns are available. Since President Joe Biden took office, the Clinton Foundation has hosted events featuring the former president, current Vice President Kamala Harris and various other prominent Democratic Party figures.
Two years after Clinton left the State Department in 2013, Chagoury was denied a visa to enter the U.S. amid a review of his ties to Hezbollah. Chagoury has reportedly denied any support for the terrorist group but reportedly funded a Lebanese politician who the FBI claim passed those funds to Hezbollah and whose political party was part of a coalition with Hezbollah.
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2021/04/straw-donor-scheme-foreign-billionaire/