Jack Abramoff, perhaps the most infamous lobbyist in the world and one of the faces of George W. Bush-era corruption, is facing new federal charges in connection with a lobbying and wire fraud scheme involving a new cryptocurrency called AML Bitcoin.
Abramoff was charged by criminal information in connection with the indictment of Rowland Marcus Andrade. As part of the scheme, according to federal prosecutors, Andrade claimed they had technology that “would allow the AML Bitcoin cryptocurrency to comply with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer laws and regulations.”
A Justice Department press release on Thursday said that Abramoff “has filed a stipulated notice of an intent to change plea pursuant to a plea agreement,” signaling that Abramoff will likely plead guilty in the case.
The criminal information alleged that Abramoff “made false and misleading statements to an undercover agent posing as a potential large purchaser of AML Bitcoin.”
As part of the bitcoin scheme, the feds said, Abramoff engaged in a false “rejection campaign” claiming that a Super Bowl ad produced by AML Bitcoin had been rejected by the NFL because it controversially mocked the North Korean government. But there wasn’t enough money to actually run the ad, and “the advertisement was never rejected by the television network or the NFL.”
The feds said Abramoff “retained at least four writers, who disseminated at least five op-ed articles regarding the purported rejection of the advertisement by the NFL and the television network, and these articles were published on five separate online news platforms in February 2018.”
Prosecutors also allege that Abramoff worked for a California company in the marijuana industry but never registered as a lobbyist as legally required.
Additionally, an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman met with Abramoff in April 2017 and entered into a lobbying agreement with him months later. After setting up the agreement, Abramoff allegedly had contacts with a member of Congress and “raised topics related to the legislative goals discussed with the undercover agent, including during a meeting that included the member of Congress in or about July 2018.” But the feds say he did not register for that client either.
The criminal information noted that Abramoff “was aware of the obligations to register as a lobbyist in part because Congress amended provisions of the Lobbying Disclosure Act in 2007 in part as a reaction to ABRAMOFF’s past conduct as a lobbyist.”