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Turkish American lobbyist pleads guilty to illegally funding Congressional trips to Azerbaijan
2018-12-11 10:15:44

The former president of a Texas-based non-profit pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to conceal the fact that a 2013 Congressional trip to Azerbaijan was funded by the Azerbaijan government, the US DEpartment of Justice reports

Kemal Oksuz, aka "Kevin Oksuz," 49, and previously a resident of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of devising a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up material facts from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.  Oksuz will be sentenced on Feb. 11, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan for the District of Columbia.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Oksuz lied on disclosure forms filed with the Ethics Committee prior to, and following, a privately sponsored Congressional trip to Azerbaijan.  Oksuz falsely represented and certified on required disclosure forms that the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasions (TCAE), the Houston non-profit for which Oksuz was president, had not accepted funding for the Congressional trip from any outside sources. 

Oksuz admitted to, in truth, orchestrating a scheme to funnel money to fund the trip from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), the wholly state-owned national oil and gas company of Azerbaijan, and then concealed the true source of funding, which violated House travel regulations.

A five-count indictment was returned earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and ordered unsealed in September.  Oksuz was recently extradited from Armenia where he was detained by authorities, pursuant to a warrant that was issued for his arrest.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Marco Palmieri of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler and Will Mackie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. Assistance in the investigation was provided by Trial Attorney Amanda Vaughn of the Public Integrity Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Hooks and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Bradford of the District of Columbia.  Trial Attorney Natalya T. Savransky of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition request to Armenia.  The Office of International Affairs, along with the U.S. Department of State and cooperating Armenian authorities provided substantial assistance with the extradition.