EXCLUSIVE: Wasserman Schultz Aide In Pakistan Still Liquidating Assets In US
Imran Awan, a congressional aide arrested by the FBI after wiring $300,000 to Pakistan and misrepresenting the purpose, had previously wired money to the country and was frantically liquidating multiple real estate properties on the day he was arrested, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
Imran’s real estate properties provide a source of money that could be sent directly to Pakistan when two upcoming home sales close. Prosecutors have since filed paperwork saying they fear “the dissipation of the proceeds of the fraud and destruction of evidence in other locations.”
Imran was arrested July 24 — four months after the FBI says his wife Hina Alvi moved to Pakistan after learning the family was the subject of a criminal investigation into their work as IT administrators for House Democrats. On the day of Imran’s arrest, the couple accepted a buyer for one house owned by Hina with an asking price of $618,000 (Hawkshead Dr.) and listed another property for sale at $200,000 (Pembrook Village), real estate records show.
On June 20, a third house his wife owned was “sold” to his brother-in-law for $360,000 (Sprayer St.). In November 2016, a fourth home his wife owned was “sold” to his brother Jamal for $620,000 (Linnett Hill Dr.). In both cases, the bank financed nearly all of the purchase.
Home sales could be a vehicle to continue moving large amounts of money to Pakistan even after Imran’s arrest. Authorities released him with a GPS monitor and confiscated his passport.
Soon after Imran began working as an IT aide for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, various House Democrats added his wife Hina, his brothers Abid and Jamal, Abid’s wife Natalia Sova, and two friends to their payrolls. But just as real estate transactions appeared to use relatives as stand-ins, there are reasons to believe not all of them were actually showing up for work.
During their time supposedly working on the Hill, one in the group was running a car dealership. Another worked at McDonald’s until he was fired, at which point he sat home all day, his housemate told TheDCNF. A third of the IT troop was a 20-year old college student, and multiple members of the group spent months at a time in Pakistan.
Most of the group were paid salaries far higher than the norm for House IT staffers. They collected $4 million since 2009 — money that seemed to disappear with no sign of lavishness in their lifestyles, a six-month investigation by TheDCNF found.
Capitol Police informed congressmen that the family was the target of a criminal investigation Feb. 2. Days prior, Imran wired nearly $300,000 to Pakistan and told the bank manager over the phone to wait as he googled what excuse to give him for the transfer — all while pretending to be his wife, according to an FBI affidavit.
A neighbor told TheDCNF the couple abruptly moved their possessions hurriedly out of their home in February, and the FBI later confiscated hard drives Imran had left in the garage. Hina moved to Pakistan March 5 with her children. Authorities stopped her at the airport and found $12,000 cash in her suitcase, but they did not prevent her from boarding.
Title companies can wire large sums abroad without attracting the suspicion Imran did at the bank, and with Hina — the nominal sole owner of each of the houses — residing in that country, it would be natural to send the proceeds to her.
In addition to the three houses sold or slated to be sold since June 20, Imran’s lawyer, Chris Gowen, told The New York Times that the $283,000 wire in January was preceded by other similar transfers to Pakistan. “Gowen said the transfer represented the latest payment by his client for a piece of property he was buying in the country,” The Times reported.
Gowen would not tell TheDCNF whether the proceeds of the $360,000 June 20 home sale were wired to Pakistan, nor where the income from the two upcoming sales would go. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia declined to comment on whether it would block the disbursements.
The value of the known homes that have been sold since November or are currently being sold is $1.8 million. There is also the $283,000 January wire transfer from the Congressional bank, in addition to previous wires of unknown amounts that Imran’s lawyer acknowledged.
Since Imran’s lawyer said the January wire of nearly $300,000 was the latest in a series of wires, the transfers may have been about moving money from the $4 million in House payments or other sources.
Authorities arrested Imran at Dulles airport trying to fly to Pakistan and accused him of taking out a home-equity loan on a rental house by falsely claiming that it was his primary residence and that the money would be used for home improvements. Real estate pictures show no improvements were made, and the money was sent to Pakistan.
The November 2016 sale of the Linnett Hill home from Imran’s wife to his brother likely broke the same law. Realtors said it was extremely unlikely that the five-percent-down loan Jamal Awan used to buy the house from his brother would have permitted Jamal to continue to rent it out to others, which he did.
A fourth Awan sibling, Adeela, and her husband Naeem Shah have now been drawn into the web with the June 20 sale of the Sprayer Street home to Naeem. Naeem also used a five-percent-down mortgage that would almost always require the couple to use the house as their primary residence, but they already own another home.
A marriage certificate shows Naeem Munawar Shah married Adeela Ashraf Awan, Imran’s sister, in 2006.
Court records show that Naeem had second thoughts at being dragged into the siblings’ suspicious finances months after it was known police were onto them.
“Awan’s sister and brother attended the hearing. Both gave consent to allow Mr. Awan to reside at their addresses … His sister unfortunately had not consulted her husband about the process. Mr. Awan’s brother-in law does not want Mr. Awan residing at his address,” documents dealing with Imran’s post-arrest release say.
The FBI affidavit says Imran’s mother-in-law, Suriayyah Bagim, also lent her name to financial schemes.
The Awans’ father later changed his last name to Shah, and a relative claimed it was because he didn’t want to be associated with his sons’ fraudulent behavior.
Imran’s real estate hijinks and his Capitol Hill work both appear to share the same tactic of using family members as proxies for seemingly shady activities.
But unlike the real estate schemes, members of Congress — employing members are listed below — had to sign off on forms granting IT access to those people and adding them to the payroll.
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