Ex-Secretary of Transportation did not disclose foreign cash loan: NPR

Former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood admitted to federal prosecutors that he accepted a loan from a foreign billionaire and failed to disclose the check on government forms.

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Win McNamee / Getty Images


Former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood admitted to federal prosecutors that he accepted a loan from a foreign billionaire and failed to disclose the check on government forms.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took $ 50,000 from an associate of a billionaire who ran an illegal program providing foreign contributions to US campaigns, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. LaHood subsequently failed to disclose the check on two government ethics forms, as required.

LaHood, the transportation secretary during former President Barack Obama’s first term, received a check for $ 50,000 from Virginia businessman Toufic Baaklini in 2012. According to the Department of Justice, LaHood “a understood “that this money actually came from the Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.

LaHood did not disclose the loan because he did not want to be publicly associated with Chagoury. The DOJ said in a statement that LaHood was facing financial problems when he accepted the check. The former secretary then attempted to mislead federal agents investigating Chagoury and did not disclose the check or who gave it to him.

Chagoury, with the help of Baaklini and other associates, carried out a complicated and illegal ploy by funneling foreign money into the US election. According to prosecutors, Chagoury provided $ 180,000 to people in the United States who donated money to four federal political candidates from 2012 to 2016. These candidates are not named.

LaHood was not involved in the scheme, prosecutors said.

In a no-prosecution agreement signed in December 2019, LaHood agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation, reimbursed the $ 50,000 and paid a fine of $ 40,000.

Dorothy H. Lewis