Top Lawmaker Pushes Trump Admin to Freeze Pakistani Assets Tied to IT Breach Scandal

Top Lawmaker Pushes Trump Admin to Freeze Pakistani Assets Tied to IT Breach Scandal, Washington Free Beacon, , August 3, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images

A leading lawmaker on the House oversight committee is urging the Trump administration to pursue a court order freezing recent wire transfers to Pakistan made by Democratic IT staffers who are accused of stealing computer equipment from House lawmakers’ offices and penetrating internal congressional networks, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), an oversight committee member and chair of its national security subcommittee, petitioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions to disclose if federal investigators are moving to freeze recent wire transfers of nearly $300,000 by Imran Awan, a top IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) and scores of other Democrats who was recently arrested on charges of bank fraud.

Awan and several of his family members are believed to have stolen computer equipment used by Congress and penetrated sensitive networks linked to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and other networks.

Awan and others allegedly involved in the scandal remained on the congressional payroll for months after their activity became public, prompting calls by senior lawmakers for an independent investigation in Wasserman Schultz’s handling of the situation.

Awan is also believed to have defrauded the House of Representatives by using taxpayer funds to buy computer equipment that is now missing.

DeSantis, who has spearheaded efforts to move forward with the probe into this scandal, told the Free Beacon on Thursday that the Trump administration must take immediate steps to freeze any assets that may have been transferred by Awan to Pakistan.

“The DOJ needs to do what it can to freeze proceeds from any illicit transactions made by Awan,” DeSantis said. “Given the allegations against him it would be unthinkable that he’d be allowed to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pakistan.”

In his letter to Sessions, DeSantis seeks to ascertain what steps the DOJ is taking to investigate Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, who is also tied to the scandal.

“Given the alarming amount of funds that were wired to Pakistan, has the Department of Justice utilized the United States Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to investigate the financial records of Awan and Alvi to discover evidence of other potential crimes?” DeSantis asks.

“Have any U.S. financial institutions filed reports of suspicious activity on any bank account held by Awan or his wife?” the letter continues.

“Is the Department of Justice investigating whether any funds generated from the sale of stolen property of the House of Representatives were included as part of the wire transfer to Faisalabad, Pakistan?” DeSantis asks.

“Finally, will the Department seek a court order freezing the proceeds of any real estate transaction or from the sale of stolen technological equipment?”

DeSantis has described the situation as one of the biggest congressional scandals in the past 30 years, and other sources intimately familiar with the matter have told the Free Beacon that Congress has been roiled by the situation.

There is concern that sensitive information potentially obtained by Awan and other Democratic staffers could be used against lawmakers who may have been bound up in the penetration of sensitive congressional networks.

“I hope that we can work together to undo the serious damage done by these individuals while in the employment of the House of Representatives,” DeSantis writes. “While we can never tolerate breaches of the public trust, the wire transfer to Pakistan is particularly alarming as Pakistan is home to numerous terrorist organizations. I look forward to your timely response into these matters.”

The Free Beacon first disclosed earlier this week that Congress is seeking a brief from Capitol Police into their investigation of the situation, which some feel has proceeded too slowly.

Senior congressional sources say that investigators should set their sites on Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of stonewalling on the matter. Some have even called for Wasserman Schultz to resign.

“The extent of the potential breaches has been made more clear” in recent weeks, according to one senior congressional source who would only speak on background when discussing the sensitive matter. “The inexplicable nature of the conduct of Wassermann Schultz and others has broadened” congressional interest.

Lawmakers are confused as to why Wasserman Schultz continued paying Awan and other staffers implicated in the breach for several months after this information came to light.

“At best for her that is gross misapplication of public funds that could merit resignation alone,” the source said. “There’s got to be more to that story.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Department of Justice, Imran Awan, Pakistan, Transfer of funds, U.S. Congress

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