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Mueller Witness Charged in $5.3 Million Campaign Finance Scheme

Andrew Harris and Bill Allison

(Bloomberg) -- George Nader, a witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, was indicted for his alleged role in a scheme to make more than $5.3 million in illegal campaign contributions.

Nader, who is already facing child pornography charges, was indicted Tuesday along with Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, chief executive officer of the online payment processor Allied Wallet Ltd., and six other people on charges they made contributions in other people’s names both to disguise their source and evade federal limits on political gifts by individuals.

“From March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election,” according to a statement issued by the Justice Department late Tuesday. The money came from Nader, they said.

While Tuesday’s 53-count indictment doesn’t identify the presidential candidate by name, Khawaja donated $1.1 million in 2016 to Priorities USA Action, the main super-PAC that supported Hillary Clinton, Federal Election Commission records show. He also donated $613,800 to a pair of joint fund-raising committees that supported Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

Nader, a businessman who acts as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates and has ties to that nation’s ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed, as well as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, was arrested in June on separate child pornography trafficking charges and is currently in custody in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Read More: Mueller Witness Nader Faces New Child Pornography Charges

Jonathan Jeffress, an attorney for Nader, declined to comment on the new charges against his client. No date has been set for his initial court appearance on the Washington case. Khawaja’s current legal counsel could not immediately be identified.

Nader, who cooperated with the Mueller investigation, appeared on the special counsel’s radar because he arranged a meeting in the Seychelles between Trump campaign surrogate Erik Prince and the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev.

Prosecutors say Nader and Khawaja intended to use their illicit campaign contributions to gain influence with the unnamed candidate and others during and after the election. Prosecutors, in their statement, said Nader allegedly “reported to an official from a foreign government about his efforts to gain influence.”

According to the indictment, after attending an event for their candidate in April 2016, Nader used WhatsApp to transmit a message to that government: “Wonderful meeting with the Big Lady... Can’t wait to tell you about it.” In another message sent six months later, Nader told that contact, “Had a simply Terrific Magnificent brainstorming and discussion with the Big Lady This evening.”

After Clinton’s defeat, Khawaja’s company, Allied Wallet, donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. His personal website features pictures of him with Clinton, Trump and top-ranking members of Congress from both parties taken at fund-raising events.

The case is U.S. v. Khawaja, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris in Washington at aharris16@bloomberg.net;Bill Allison in Washington at ballison14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Anthony Lin

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