FBI agents suspect somebody in Congress tipped off the Awans that they would be indicted and now the criminal cases once-seemingly isolated to a group of rogue Pakistani IT specialists working for Congress suddenly has gotten much larger. And much more troubling.
Federal agents said preceding his arrest, Imran Awan acted like a man who was recently tipped off that he would be pinched and moreover, it was no coincidence Awan’s wife was whisked out of the country in March after sidestepping the FBI at Dulles International Airport to flee to Pakistan.
“She had cardboard boxes for luggage,” one FBI agent said. “The school didn’t even know she took her kids out.”
Now a faction of FBI veterans believe the couple’s puzzling behavior is explained by even more troubling revelations: Information about the Grand Jury convened to investigate Awan and his wife Hina Alvi for bank fraud and illicit money transfers was likely leaked to the Pakistani couple. Awan and Alvi were both former IT workers hired by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Additionally, Imran and his wife — along with two brothers — performed IT and computer programming work for at least 18 more Democratic lawmakers in Congress. But it was Wasserman, the former chairwoman of the DNC, who kept the pair employed despite the booming criminal case.
Federal agents said it appears more than likely a leak could have originated from any member of Congress linked to the Awan family. Federal law enforcement sources believe officials in Congress were tipped off by a subsequent leak in the Justice Department or the hierarchy of the FBI itself. The Grand Jury convened in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on Nov. 13, 2016. Within weeks, Awan and his wife started moving money. Lots of it. To Pakistan and parts unknown, federal agents said. By the time Awan and Alvi were indicted on Aug. 17th, they had liquidated well over $2 million in U.S.-backed assets and property, sources and records show. That amount is likely to grow, as agents continue to work the cases.
And as much as $800,000 of that money was liquidated after Awan’s FBI arrest, exactly two weeks before his indictment.
It is no coincidence Awan began liquidating assets “like a mad man” in the days before his July 24th arrest, FBI sources and public records confirm. In fact, Awan closed deals on the sale of two houses for over $800,000. Both real estate assets were owned by he and his wife and he accepted buy offers on the properties the same day of his arrest. This was a small feat in itself because she was hiding 7,500 miles away in Pakistan. Awan was also lining up cash advances on credit line accounts and liquidating other financial instruments, federal sources said.
Federal agents said it is evident Awan was in a rush to liquidate assets prior to an arrest and indictment in a possible attempt to shield the real estate from prosecutors who could seize or freeze the couple’s properties.
These new revelations of high-placed leaks flowing from multiple branches of the government follow similarly disturbing news that when Awan’s wife was preparing to flee the United States to Pakistan, the FBI’s efforts to arrest her were blocked by now-fired ex FBI director James Comey and Andrew McCabe, deputy FBI director.
A disturbing pattern has emerged in this growing case where it has become evident that Awan has been helped along the way, including intervention by Wasserman Schultz who vouched for at least one Awan Congressional Federal Credit Union loans, a transaction which is now central to the indictment.
Awan’s strategy to sell his wife’s real estate assets while she was far from the clutches of the FBI might have paid off. Public records show just two weeks before the couple’s indictment, Awan closed on a sale of at least one Lorton VA home on August 3 for $617,000.
FBI agents may not have been aware of the August 3rd cash out at the time either, sources said. But they know now. Awan, by selling assets prior to the date of the couple’s indictment, may have again found a loophole to stay under the radar of federal agents, sources said. This is another reason federal agents believe he had some guidance on these matters. After his indictment any large financial transactions would be monitored by the Justice Department and Awan’s federal pretrial intervention case worker who reports to the District Court Clerk and ultimately Awan’s federal case judge. Awan’s assets would have been essentially frozen, with any sales pending the approval of the courts and DOJ, sources said.
Likewise, when Alvi was preparing to flee the United States, she liquidated retirement funds and wired mortgage settlements totaling almost $600,000 to Pakistan prior to her departure.
Federal agents said it was apparent Alvi had no intentions to return to the United States when three weeks after her departure, Imram started listing his Hawkshead Drive home in Lorton, among others, on the market for $629,000. Then, approximately three days before his arrest, he dropped the sale of the house to $617,000.
Awan’s real estate agent edited the property’s MLS listing at that time to reflect the emotions of a worried seller, adding: “PRICE IMPROVEMENT! MOTIVATED SELLERS!”
Days later, it was sold. Again, on the same day Awan was arrested while trying to flee to Pakistan himself.
Alvi purchased the Lorton home in 2008 for $470,000 form Avelo Mortgage with less than three percent down payment, records show. The sale price of the home was almost $400,000 lower than the previous sale of $840,000. Avelo at the time was the residential mortgage arm of Goldman Sachs, generous and longtime personal and campaign benefactors of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee which was previously chaired by Wasserman Schultz.
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.
The lingering question is whether the FBI will be granted permission to investigate Congress for leaks which could implicate the Justice Department or bosses at the FBI.
Sources at the Bureau said they have their doubts.