Friday, September 12, 2014

Former US Ambassador Investigated for Money Laundering and Tax Evasion (9/12/14)

The New York Time reports that, according to a report in an Austrian magazine,a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, " is under investigation by the Justice Department for possible tax evasion and money laundering."  Alison Smale, Former Envoy Reported Facing a Federal Inquiry (NYT 9/8/14), here.

His background:
Born in Afghanistan in 1951, Mr. Khalilzad studied at the American University in Beirut, where he met Ms. Benard, and later earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago. He first worked for the State Department in the 1980s, serving under President Ronald Reagan and President George Bush. 
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Khalilzad became a trusted adviser to President George W. Bush on Afghanistan and was formally appointed ambassador to Kabul in 2003, serving in that post until 2005. He then became ambassador to Iraq, where he stayed until 2007, when he won congressional approval as the American envoy to the United Nations. After Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Khalilzad entered private business.
The case, reported to involve the transfer of $1.4 million, apparently came to light after a blogger discovered documents from the Austrian state prosecutors’ office and a Vienna court in a garbage dump in Vienna between March and August. The blogger published several of the papers he found on his website recently. 
The Austrian weekly newsmagazine Profil reported that the cache of papers included a document from the Justice Department, citing its investigation of Mr. Khalilzad, 63, concerning accounts belonging to Mr. Khalilzad’s wife, the social scientist and author Cheryl Benard.
The caution, of course, is that this is just a report of an investigation and, even if true, it is just an investigation.  Apparently no charges have been brought by either the U.S. or by Austria.  Austria, however, did put a hold on one account.  But an Austrian court subsequently lifted the blog.  Alison Smale, Austrian Court Unblocks Assets of Former U.S. Ambassador’s Wife (NYT 9/11/14), here.

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