UAE adviser illegally funneled foreign money to Clinton campaign
George Nader, an American adviser to the UAE government, convicted sex offender and frequent visitor to the White House during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, has pleaded guilty to his role in helping the UAE pump millions of dollars illegal campaign contributions into the US political system during the 2016 presidential election, according to documents filed in federal court last month.
Federal prosecutors revealed in a December sentencing memo that Nader had agreed months earlier to plead guilty to a single count of criminal conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by funneling millions in campaign donations. ‘Hillary Clinton and concealing the foreign origin of the funds. Nader’s plea has not previously been reported.
A lawyer for Nader did not respond to a request for comment.
Nader conspired to hide the funds “out of a desire to lobby on behalf of and advance the interests of his client, the government of the United Arab Emirates,” according to the prosecutors’ sentencing memo. Nader received the money for the illegal donations from the UAE government, the memo states. It is the first time that the US government has explicitly accused the United Arab Emirates, a close ally, of illegally seeking to buy candidates access in a presidential election.
Nader’s guilty plea opens a new window into efforts by the United Arab Emirates and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and shape subsequent US policy in the Gulf. The government memo notes that Nader and Los Angeles businessman Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja also sought to cultivate “key figures” in the Trump campaign and that Khawaja donated $1 million to the committee Trump’s inaugural. We do not know where this money comes from.
Prosecutors allege that in total, Nader transferred nearly $5 million from his UAE-based business to Khawaja, the CEO of a Los Angeles-based payment processing company. The sentencing note details Nader and Khawaja’s efforts to disguise the money as a mundane business contract between the two. Of that amount, more than $3.5 million came from the UAE government and was given to Democratic political committees working to elect Clinton, according to the US government, which accused Nader, Khawaja and six others of working together to disguise the origin. of these funds. Prosecutors have not publicly reported what happened to the remaining $1.4 million they say Nader transferred to Khawaja.
With Nader’s guilty plea, five of the eight men charged with the alleged conspiracy pleaded guilty; two other defendants are to be tried this year. Khawaja fled the United States after the indictment. The Associated Press reported in 2020 that he was being held in Lithuania, citing police officers there and a Lithuanian lawyer representing him.
Prosecutors are seeking a five-year sentence for Nader, asking that it not begin until after he has served the 10-year sentence he is currently serving for possession of child pornography and bringing a minor to the United States “for the purpose to engage in criminal sexual activity”. .”
Prosecutors alleged that Nader received his instructions from the UAE Crown Prince and regularly updated MBZ on his progress as he sought to get closer to Clinton. At one point, Khawaja complained that Nader and the UAE had yet to send money to cover the costs of a Clinton fundraiser he was organizing. Nader texted that he would send a note “as directed by HH”, using an abbreviation of “his highness”, an apparent reference to MBZ.
A few days later, Nader was preparing to meet Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton and asked an Emirati official, almost certainly MBZ, if they could meet before he left. “[T]parade on Saturday morning to find our Big Sister and her husband: I see him on Sunday and she [sic] Tuesday Sir! I would love to see you tomorrow at your convenience… for your guidance, your instructions and your blessing!
Even though Nader poured donations into the effort to elect Clinton, he fought his way through the Trump campaign on behalf of his Gulf clients.
But even as Nader was pouring donations into the effort to elect Clinton, he fought his way through the Trump campaign on behalf of his Gulf clients. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election described Nader as a “senior adviser” to MBZ and said he had established “contact” with both campaigns. Nader would later tell the FBI that he met Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. on several occasions in 2016, and The New York Times reported that Nader told Trump Jr. that MBZ and the Crown Prince of Arabia Saudi Arabia were eager to help his father get elected. Nader advised the Gulf monarchs to “be on good terms” with Clinton and Trump ahead of the 2016 vote, he told the FBI.
After Trump won the presidency but before his inauguration, Nader unsuccessfully sought to arrange a meeting between Trump and MBZ, according to FBI interview notes. Instead, UAE officials arranged for MBZ to speak with key Trump campaign officials, including Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and the retired lieutenant. General Michael Flynn in New York. A few weeks later, through Nader, the Emirati leader arranged for a top Trump donor, Erik Prince, to meet Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, an investment fund sanctioned by the state, at a resort in the Seychelles.
After Trump’s inauguration, Nader became a frequent visitor to the White House, according to the Times. Nader’s involvement in the Trump campaign and his role in the Seychelles meeting put him in the crosshairs of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Federal agents arrested Nader in June 2019 at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he got off a flight from the United Arab Emirates and accused him of possessing a dozen images or videos of child pornography. Those charges were ultimately dismissed, but Nader was charged with a separate charge of possession of child pornography and charged with transporting a 14-year-old boy to the United States for sexual purposes. Nader pleaded guilty to both counts, which stemmed from activities that took place in 2012 and 2000, respectively, according to court documents, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and lifelong supervision as a sex offender. Nader also spent a year in prison in the Czech Republic in 2003 for having sex with the same minor he flew to the United States with.
Nader is not the only American recently accused of helping the United Arab Emirates influence American policy. Last year, the Justice Department indicted Thomas Barrack, a wealthy businessman and close friend and adviser to Trump, for secretly working as an agent of the United Arab Emirates to help advance the goals of the country’s foreign policy. In a press release at the time the indictment was unsealed, the Justice Department described Barrack and two others as working to “provide intelligence” to the UAE government on the Trump campaign and later on administration. Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. A United Arab Emirates national and Barrack associate, Rashid Al-Malik, whose role was first reported by The Intercept in 2019, has also been charged in the scheme.
In Barrack’s indictment, MBZ and senior UAE officials are described, though not by name, as directing and overseeing Barrack’s efforts to work with Trump to advance UAE political goals. . Barrack, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, will stand trial later this year.