Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pressured officials at Congressional Federal Credit Union to write a loan to a husband and wife from Pakistan now charged and accused of bank fraud, according to federal law enforcement sources.
Wasserman Schultz, who was the leader of the Democratic National Committee at the time, intervened in the loan process to help guarantee Imran Awan and wife Hina Alvi a $165,000 loan which the couple quickly wired to Pakistan far from the reach of US regulators, FBI sources confirm. Imran was arrested on bank fraud charges in July while attempting to flee to Pakistan. His wife fled the country to Pakistan in March after the FBI caught her at Dulles International Airport with undocumented cash. She was suspected of bank fraud by the FBI who allowed her to leave the country anyway.
Awan, until his arrest, was employed as the IT specialist for Wasserman Schultz and dozens of other congressional Democrats since 2004. His wife was also on the congressional payroll. The Congressional Federal Credit Union is not open to the public but is normally reserved for Congress and members of their staffs.
According to FBI sources familiar with the criminal case, Congressional Federal Credit Union officials were hesitant to write the couple the loan because underwriters flagged portions of the Awan’s application as problematic and risk loaded. That was until Wasserman Schultz is believed to have made overtures to the federally-backed credit union to vouch for Awan and his spouse. FBI sources said the home equity credit line was approved despite the red flags, namely: The Awans rented the home linked to the loan application, but the FBI said the bank does not extend home equity lines to rental properties. The Awans never told the bank it was a rental property, the FBI said.
FBI sources would not confirm whether Wasserman Schultz wrote letters or emails to bank hierarchy or made telephone calls to push for the loan. Likewise, FBI sources did not confirm whether Wasserman Schultz was the target of a parallel FBI investigation.
Loan officers and underwriters made several inquiries to the Awans during the loan application process to try to clear up glaring discrepancies. according to the FBI. Emails sent by Awan and his wife to the credit union’s underwriters originated from an IP address linked to Wasserman Schultz’s congressional offices, FBI sources confirmed.
According to the FBI, the Awans omitted assets and liabilities both on the bank application as well as their federal tax returns which improved their debt-to-income ratio. But underwriters at CFCU caught these errors and wanted additional documentation on outstanding mortgages and rental income linked to the Awans which were never disclosed by the couple. In January 2017, CFCU requested Alvi file an Occupancy and Financial Status Affidavit to prove the couple was using the address as a primary residence (even though they were not), according to the FBI. Days later the loan was approved.
During that waiting period, Awan and his wife made several inquiries into the status of the loan, again, via email from computer networks linked to Congress, FBI sources said.
Within hours of the loan approval – on Jan. 18, 2017 at noon – Awan’s wife Alvi requested the $165,000 loan plus an additional $118,000 from her CFCU accounts be wired to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to bank records.
But before the credit union initiated the international wire request for $283,000 to Pakistan, officials from CFCU contacted Alvi on her cell phone to confirm the wire, according to the FBI. Bank officials initially balked at commencing the wire transfer because Imran changed his voice on the phone to pose as his wife. First he said the funds were to be used in Pakistan for funeral arrangements, the FBI said. Then Imran, still in character posing as his wife, changed gears after CFCU said they were not going to wire the funds. Imran said on the call he would search online for a permissible reason to wire the funds, according to the FBI. Imran – again posing as his wife – claimed the funds were for a purchase pf property and not for a funeral. After a delay, the funds were wired to Pakistan, FBI sources said. The call was tape recorded and is now in evidence in the Awan fraud case.
FBI sources would not say whether Wasserman Schultz intervened to push CFCU to proceed with the problematic wire transfers. FBI sources said that CFCU officials did suspect Imran was using a female voice to pose as his wife who originally initiated the wire request electronically.
Yet the funds were still wired.
Awan and his wife, as well as his two brothers are also targets of an investigation into an alleged procurement scam where the group is suspected of stealing equipment, Blackberry phones, and hacking House IT systems without permission.
Wasserman Schultz could not be reached for comment.