A convicted child-sex offender and adviser to the UAE, George Nader, has pleaded guilty to helping the Gulf state pump millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions into the US political system during the 2016 presidential election, The Intercept has reported. It cited documents submitted in federal court last month and the prosecutors' sentencing memo.
Nader, a Lebanese American businessman, was charged along with seven other people in December with conspiracy to hide the "source of excessive contributions" made by groups supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He was also charged with sex offences in 2019. Newly-published details of Nader's plea show that the 62-year-old agreed months earlier to plead guilty to a conspiracy to defraud the US government by funnelling millions in donations to Clinton.
Nader conspired to hide the funds "out of a desire to lobby on behalf and advance the interests of his client, the government of the United Arab Emirates," according to the prosecutors' sentencing memo. He received the money for the illegal donations from the UAE government, the memo said, making it the first time that the US government has explicitly accused the UAE, a close ally, of illegally seeking to buy access to candidates during a presidential election.
Prosecutors have alleged that Nader took his instructions from the UAE Crown Prince, Mohamed Bin Zayed, and that he regularly updated the 60-year-old on the progress he was making in getting close to Clinton. As much as five million dollars may have been paid by the UAE to gain political access and influence.
It's said that elaborate steps were taken to disguise the source of the money. Although prosecutors have not publicly accounted for $1.4 million of the five million involved, they are certain that more than $3.5 million came from the government of the UAE.
Despite pouring millions into the Clinton campaign, Nader was part of a much wider UAE scheme to gain access and influence in US politics and to hedge its bets over who would win the 2016 US election. He eventually worked his way into the Trump campaign on behalf of his Gulf clients. He advised the Gulf monarchs to "be on good terms" with both Clinton and Trump in the run up to the 2016 vote.
Nader became a key figure for the UAE during the Trump administration. He arranged several meetings with senior White House officials and Abu Dhabi which became the subject of FBI investigations. Federal agents finally arrested him in June 2019 at John F Kennedy International Airport after he got off a flight from the UAE. He was charged with possessing a dozen images or videos of child pornography. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for transporting a 14-year-old into the country for sex and possessing child pornography.