House oversight committee member, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) is urging the Trump administration to pursue a court order freezing recent wire transfers to Pakistan made by Democratic IT staffers who are accused of stealing computer equipment from House lawmakers’ offices and penetrating internal congressional networks, according to a report from The Washington Free Beacon.
As chair of the oversight committee’s national security subcommittee, DeSantis petitioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions to disclose whether federal investigators are moving to freeze recent wire transfers of nearly $300,000 by Imran Awan, a top IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) and many other Democrats, who was recently arrested on charges of bank fraud.
It’s being reported that Awan and several of his family members stole computer equipment used by Congress and penetrated sensitive networks linked to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and other networks.
Awan and others allegedly involved in the scandal remained on the congressional payroll for months after their activity became public, prompting calls by senior lawmakers for an independent investigation into Wasserman Schultz’s handling of the situation.
In addition, Awan defrauded the House of Representatives by using taxpayer funds to buy the computer equipment that is now missing.
Calling this “one of the biggest congressional scandals in the past 30 years,” DeSantis told the Free Beacon on Thursday that the Trump administration must take immediate steps to freeze any assets that may have been transferred by Awan to Pakistan. “The DOJ needs to do what it can to freeze proceeds from any illicit transactions made by Awan,” he said. “Given the allegations against him, it would be unthinkable that he’d be allowed to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pakistan.”
In his letter to Sessions, DeSantis wants to know what steps the DOJ is taking to investigate Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, who is also tied to the scandal.
“Given the alarming amount of funds that were wired to Pakistan, has the Department of Justice utilized the United States Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to investigate the financial records of Awan and Alvi to discover evidence of other potential crimes?” DeSantis asks in the letter, adding, “Have any U.S. financial institutions filed reports of suspicious activity on any bank account held by Awan or his wife?”
DeSantis also asks, “Is the Department of Justice investigating whether any funds generated from the sale of stolen property of the House of Representatives were included as part of the wire transfer to Faisalabad, Pakistan? Finally, will the Department seek a court order freezing the proceeds of any real estate transaction or from the sale of stolen technological equipment?”
There is concern that sensitive information potentially obtained by Awan and other Democratic staffers could be used against lawmakers.
“I hope that we can work together to undo the serious damage done by these individuals while in the employment of the House of Representatives,” DeSantis writes. “While we can never tolerate breaches of the public trust, the wire transfer to Pakistan is particularly alarming as Pakistan is home to numerous terrorist organizations. I look forward to your timely response into these matters.”
Earlier this week, Congress asked Capitol Police to step up its investigation of the situation, and some congressional players are saying that Wasserman Schultz has been stonewalling on the matter.
The question remains as to why Wasserman Schultz continued paying Awan and other staffers implicated in the breach for several months after this information came to light. In fact, Awan was still on her payroll right up until the day he was arrested at the airport trying to flee the country and reunite with his family, which had already absconded to Pakistan with several hundred thousand dollars.
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