Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s top information technology (IT) aide was arrested attempting to leave the country just a few hours after The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group revealed that he is the target of an FBI investigation.
The employee, Imran Awan, had wired $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union in a House office building to two individuals in Pakistan. Credit union officials permitted the wire to go through, and his wife has already fled the country to Pakistan, after police confronted her at the airport and found $12,000 in cash hidden in her suitcase but did not stop her from boarding.
“On January 18, 2017 at 12:09 pm, an international wire transfer request form was submitted [at the Congressional Federal Credit Union] at the Longworth House Office Building in the District of Columbia, in the amount of $283,000.00, to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan,” according to an affidavit obtained by TheDCNF.
Imran Awan, a Pakistani-born IT aide, had access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress, as well as the password to the iPad that Wasserman Schultz used for Democratic National Committee business before she resigned as its head in July 2016.
In March, his wife Hina Alvi, who also was on the House payroll, withdrew her children from school and left the country, the affidavit says. The Capitol Police confronted her at the airport but could not stop her. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted a search of Alvi’s bags immediately prior to her boarding the plane and located a total of $12,400.00 in U.S. cash inside. Alvi was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States,” the affidavit says. “Alvi had numerous pieces of luggage with her, including cardboard boxes… Your affiant does not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”
Soon after Imran began working for Wasserman Schultz in 2005, four of his relatives appeared on the payroll of other Democrats — many from Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida — at inflated salaries, but Democratic staffers said they were rarely seen at work. They collected $4 million in taxpayer salaries since 2009.
House authorities told members in February that Awan and his relatives were suspects in a criminal investigation into theft and IT abuses, and they were banned from the Capitol network.
Wasserman Schultz has refused to fire Imran, despite being a known criminal suspect in a cybersecurity probe for months, and has blocked Capitol Police from searching a laptop they confiscated because it was tied to him.
TheDCNF reported Sunday night that the FBI had joined the investigation and seized smashed hard drives from Imran’s home. The next day, the FBI apprehended him at Dulles Airport after noticing that he had purchased a ticket to Pakistan, routed through Qutar.
The affidavit says he was charged with bank fraud involving fraudulently taking out mortgages, which was one of several financial schemes TheDCNF has detailed. It appears to be a placeholder for future charges, spurred because of the attempt to leave the country, and does not mention his work for Congress, which is the investigation’s primary focus.
As TheDCNF has reported, the Awans own numerous rental properties that often have multiple mortgages taken out on them, and they have told renters they want payments in untraceable ways. The charging documents say Imran’s wife Hina Alvi, who also made $165,000 working for House Democrats, took out a second mortgage against a house from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by falsely claiming it was her “principal residence” and that she will “occupy” the property, and also fraudulently reported no rental income on her taxes.
A renter told the FBI “they paid approximately $2,000 per month for rent and that the rent check was written to Suriaya Begum. Based on information and belief, I know that Begum is Alvia’s mother,” an FBI agent wrote.
The agent also said Imran appears to have applied for the loan in his wife’s name.
Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, have suggested that police had framed the Pakistani-born brothers out of Islamophobia. Yet his own stepmother, a devout Muslim, filed court documents accusing him of using high-tech devices to wiretap her and extorting her (see p. 23 of court documents in that case). A dozen people who have dealt with Imran painted a picture in interviews with TheDCNF of a charming, “cunning” extrovert who bragged about his power among Democratic officials and who seemed to have an unquenchable thirst for cash.
The affidavit also paints him as an overly confident con artist, saying he listed his House phone number when initiating the wire transfer, and pretended to be a woman — his wife — on the phone when a Congressional Federal Credit Union questioned the transfer. “The person answering the call, who was a male, pretended that he was Alvi. On the call, the [bank] representative asked the man to verify the address of where the wire was being sent and the purpose of the outgoing wire,” the document says.
Imran claimed the $300,000 was for “funeral arrangements.”
“The CFCU representative then stated that ‘funeral arrangements’ may not be an acceptable reason for the wire. The male speaking to the representative then responded that he would look online for an acceptable reason for the wire. After a long pause, the male said that the reason for the wire was ‘buying property.’ The representative accepted that reason and initiated the wire transfer to Pakistan.”
Fox News was first to report the arrest.
Bill Miller, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, told TheDCNF that Awan “was arraigned today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on one count of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. He pled not guilty and was released pursuant to a high-intensity supervision program. The conditions of release are that he receive a GPS monitor, he abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that he not leave a 50-mile radius of his residence in Virginia. Awan was also ordered to turn over all of his passports.”
Wasserman Schultz’s spokesman, David Damron, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Read TheDCNF’s extensive reporting on the House cyberbreach, and see if your member of Congress is on the chart below. The Awan brothers could read all emails sent and received by these members, as well as all files on their staffers’ computers.
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