A Pakistani family under investigation for sharing House of Representatives’ information technology with certain Democrats, and for putting “ghost employees” on taxpayer rolls, have now raised new red flags because all their private venture dealings were conducted in cash — at their insistence.
According to the Daily Caller, Imran Awan, his wife Hina, and brothers Abid and Jamal were able to net more than $4 million from 2009 through 2017, while serving as IT administrators for House Democrats.
Democrats haven’t exactly expressed concern about the money, or about the fact that a major data breach was detected in the House IT system in February 2017.
But Capitol Police kicked off an investigation into the family. And now, it seems, that investigation has turned up even more suspicious activities.
From the Daily Caller:
House Democrats have been nonchalant about the allegations, with some saying it was just a misunderstanding or the Capitol Police framed the Awans due to Islamophobia.
But official documents, court records and multiple interviews suggest the crew may have engaged in tax fraud, extortion, bankruptcy fraud and insurance fraud and the money could have been funneled overseas. Abid has hired high-profile attorney James Bacon who specializes in anti-money laundering litigation.
The Awans share modest homes, drive unremarkable cars and report little in the way of assets on congressional disclosures. The family owns significant amounts of Virginia rental properties, which are heavily financed, with second mortgages sometimes taken out. It’s unclear where the rental income goes because the Awans insist tenants pay in odd ways.
The Daily Caller News foundation interviewed multiple current and former tenants who said Imran insisted rent be paid in untraceable ways. Many of those TheDCNF interviewed about the Awans asked not to be identified for fear of suffering retaliation by the family, particularly renters to whose homes Imran has keys.
“He only wants cash — for the security deposit, everything. The mortgage is probably $600, we pay $1,800 a month,” one said.
“I would write the rent to all sorts of different people,” another claimed. While still another tenant said the family insisted on blank money orders.
Those interviewed also were puzzled that Congress kept the Awans on the payroll full-time when the family spent months of the year in Pakistan.
The four Awans were each making approximately $160,000 a year on Capitol Hill. Other House IT workers told TheDCNF that the Awans appeared to hold no-show jobs, with bare-bones services provided, and it appeared one person was doing the work for the rest of them.
Cristal Perpignan, a former Awan renter, said Imran instructed her to pay the rent to Imran’s friend, Rao Abbas, who lived in the basement of the home she occupied and was also on the House payroll as an IT worker. But Perpignan said Abbas spent his days at home.
Imran’s wife purchased the home in 2008 for $470,000. A second mortgage was taken out in 2012, and — at least on paper — it was sold to Imran’s 22-year old brother Jamal in November 2016 for $620,000 — $43,000 more than its assessed value.
All but five percent of Jamal’s purchase, $589,000, was financed by the bank, according to records reviewed by TheDCNF. This means the transaction netted the family $119,000 of the bank’s money even as the house remained a rental property, without the ownership ever leaving the family.
According to Wells Fargo, people can’t use a standard mortgage for a rental property. The bank must be told of the intent to use the property as a rental, and the applicant generally is required to make a 20 percent down payment. There are no notes in property records that it was not an arms-length sale.
While the Awans had access to the emails of members of sensitive congressional committees, Abid incorporated a car dealership in Falls Church, Va., with Nasir Khattek, who operated an established car dealership next door.
Khattek later said in sworn testimony that the Abid dealership’s financial books were a sham. Abid’s dealership received $100,000 from Ali Al-Attar, an Iraqi politician who practiced medicine in the Washington, D.C. region and is a fugitive from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The dealership racked up debts to people who subsequently accused Abid of fraud, according to court documents. Abid filed bankruptcy to discharge the debts, while his family members remained untouched. Khattek testified the dealership was run as a “family business,” with Imran, not Abid, in control.
As some of Capitol Hill’s highest-paid employees, the brothers had to submit financial disclosure statements to Congress, but Abid attested that he had no liabilities. Imran checked “no” when asked whether his spouse had any income, even though she was making a top salary from the same employer reviewing the disclosure documents.
The disclosures also ask about rental income, but the Awans often listed either no or little rent payments received.