Gilbert Chagoury, the chairman of Chagoury and Chagoury group in Nigeria is in trouble in America for using straw donors in US elections. Chagoury has been accused of having routed approximately $180,000 to the campaign committees of four U.S. candidates through straw donors over the course of three election cycles. The Chagoury family were known to have benefitted in various contracts due to friendship with top military brass in Nigeria, especially in the days of corrupt General Sani Abacha era.
Chagoury was said to have 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 Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire has 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 on Wednesday,march 31,2021.
The Justice Department’s release did not identify the donors and candidates by name.
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’s firm routed funds through sub-vendors assisting with the foreign influence operations.
A firm referred to as 4Impact LLC was said to have served as a liaison to Chagoury in the foreign influence efforts, according to the FARA records. Toufic Baaklini, one of Chagoury’s two associates 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 also 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 is said not to be Chagoury’s first brush with controversy
Chagoury was a top advisor to Nigerian head of state,the late Sani Abacha, and he( Chagoury)was described by Nigeria’s top anti-corruption prosecutor as a “kingpin in the corruption that defined Abacha’s regime.”
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