USAfrica: Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Chagoury’s illegal campaign contributions yield U.S. Congressman Fortenberry indictments 

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USAfrica BrkNEWS: Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Chagoury’s illegal campaign contributions yield U.S. Congressman Fortenberry indictments 

By Chido Nwangwu

USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet

The United States Department of Justice has announced that a federal grand jury today, October 19, 2021, charged U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry, who represents Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, “with concealing information and making false statements to federal authorities who were investigating illegal contributions made by a foreign national to the congressman’s 2016 re-election campaign.”

It noted that Fortenberry, 60 years old and a Republican of Lincoln, Nebraska, was named in an indictment that charges him with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Fortenberry has served in Congress since 2005.

The indictment alleges that Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during a federal investigation into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s re-election campaign made by a foreign billionaire in early 2016. 

USAfricaonline.com notes that the “foreign billionaire” is the Lebanese-Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury. He is 76 years old and spends most of his time, recently, in Paris, France. 

With his siblings, generally known as the Chagoury Brothers, they own substantial real estate in the rapidly developed new area of Lagos (Nigeria) known as Eko Atlantic. They have substantial investments in construction, financial services, telecommunications and technologies. 

The U.S DOJ underscores the legal fact that Mr. Chagoury is “a foreign national prohibited by federal law from contributing to any U.S. elections. Also, he is reported to have “arranged for $30,000 of his money to be contributed through other individuals (conduits) to Fortenberry’s campaign during a fundraiser held in Los Angeles, according to the indictment. It is illegal for foreign nationals to make contributions to a federal campaign. It also is illegal for the true source of campaign contributions to be disguised by funneling the money through third-party conduits. And it is illegal for a federal candidate to knowingly receive foreign or conduit contributions.” 

The FBI/IRS/DOJ made the case that despite learning of the illegal campaign contributions, Fortenberry did not file an amended report with the Federal Elections Commission. 

According to the DOJ, “the three felony charges in the indictment each carry a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Through his attorney, Fortenberry has agreed to appear for an arraignment on Wednesday, October 20 in United States District Court in Los Angeles, California. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mack E. Jenkins, Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, and Susan S. Har, also of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

Mr. Chagoury who has expanded his network of influence across three continents entered into “a deferred prosecution agreement” with the United States Attorney’s Office in 2019 where the FBI/DOJ took his admitting providing approximately $180,000 that was used to make illegal contributions to four different political candidates in U.S. elections. Chagoury agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine and cooperate with federal authorities.