Their Ties, Your Money

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Family ties? Rutgers University Law School collected some $3.3 million in Congressional earmarks. / RUTGERS

Rep. Robert E. Andrews helped secure some $3.3 million for Rutgers University School of Law in Camden, NJ, where his wife is associate dean in charge of scholarships. Rep. Norm Dicks, a Washington Democrat and former chair of an appropriations subcommittee, gave $1.8 million in taxpayer money to an environmental non-profit that his son was running. He topped that off with a $14 million earmark that the Environmental Protection Agency passed on to his son’s group to clean up Puget Sound.  Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a Florida Republican, helped appropriate some $73 million of taxpayer money to companies that employed his sons.

Spending is never so easy as when the money comes from someone else’s pocket. Better yet, everyone else’s pocket.

A wide-ranging investigation in the Washington Post this week shows dozens of congressmen and senators steering earmarks–federal money not open to competitive bidding–to benefit themselves or family members and friends. They have parked some $300 million on projects in close proximity to properties and businesses they own, and sent millions more to benefit their alma maters, companies in which they have financial stakes and charities that employ family members.

The really audacious part? It’s all legal, as Congress passed ethics and conflict of interest laws for the Executive branch that are far stricter that the rules they passed for themselves.

Sweep to Capitol Assets: Some legislators send millions to groups connected to their relatives

As the chief of Jordanian intelligence until 2009, General Mohammad Dahabi was a feared figure, on whose orders citizens could disappear into the maw of security services indefinitely.

On Thursday, Dahabi, brother of former Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, was taken into police custody. Prosecutors said they plan to hold him for 14 days at al-Juweida prison, while they investigate the general on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Prosecutors are also investigating Dahabi on allegations that he may have bribed scores of journalists.

Dahabi’s arrest grew out of a Central Bank investigation into money laundering, that has so far also snared a former mayor of Amman and several top businessmen. Two weeks ago, officials at the Central Bank accused al-Dahabi of laundering some $40 million.

Sweep to Former Jordan intelligence chief arrested on corruption charges

Francisco Illaramendi. / REUTERS

A $500 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded the pension fund of Venezuela’s state oil company relied on go-betweens and some $36 million in insider bribes to bilk the fund of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Ponzi scheme was the work of Francisco Illaramendi, a Venezuelan-American hedge fund adviser who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with the scheme last March. Illaramendi, a former consultant for Petroleos de Venezuela  SA, or PDVSA, is under house arrest in New Canaan, Connecticut and awaiting sentencing.

His victims are suing Illaramendi in federal court in Connecticut, with the goal of recovering some $170 million illegally spent on bribes, kickbacks and “fraudulent transfers” that came to light through a receiver’s investigation. The suit alleges that Illaramendi bribed Juan Montes, a senior manager at PDVSA’s pension investment fund, and borrowed millions from a well-connected businessman, Morris Beracha, at exorbitant rates.

Sweep to Connecticut fraud lawsuit details bribery in Venezuela

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.
Diana Jean Schemo

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