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Press Release

Businessman Sentenced for $3.5M Foreign Conduit Contribution Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A businessman with dual citizenship in Lebanon and the United States was sentenced today to an additional year and eight months in prison for his role in funneling at least $3.5 million in unlawful contributions from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to unwitting political committees in the United States.

According to court documents, George A. Nader, 64, served as an advisor to senior UAE government officials during the relevant period. Nader conspired with co-defendant Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja to transfer $4.9 million to facilitate unlawful contributions to unwitting political committees in order to gain access to and influence with a then-candidate for President of the United States and others in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Nader’s company in the UAE transferred the funds to Khawaja’s company in the United States under the guise of a legitimate business transaction. Specifically, Nader and Khawaja entered into a false licensing agreement on behalf of their respective companies to disguise the multimillion-dollar transfer of funds as a legitimate commercial transaction involving the transfer of software from Khawaja’s company to Nader’s company. Nader and Khawaja further concealed the scheme by surreptitiously communicating through an encrypted messaging system with coded language about the transfer of funds and their hosting of and attendance at fundraising and campaign-related events.

Nader used the same encrypted messaging system to inform UAE government officials about his political activities in the United States. For example, on or about June 7, 2016, Nader reported to a senior UAE government official via encrypted messaging system that he “Had a terrific meeting with my Big Sister H[.]  You will be most delighted!”; on or about June 29, 2016, Nader reported to the same UAE official: “Meeting with Big Lady went extremely well.”; and on or about July 27, 2016, Nader followed up with the same official: “I am catching up with key figures in both camps and have been developing a steady, consistent and constructive relationship with both camps!”   

In total, Nader and Khawaja used at least $3.5 million of the UAE funds to make unlawful contributions to unsuspecting political committees in the United States, causing the political committees to submit materially false statements and reports to the Federal Election Commission unwittingly.

Following the 2016 election, Khawaja, through his company, made a $1 million contribution to the unwitting inaugural committee of the U.S. President-Elect. In connection with this contribution, Khawaja obtained tickets to the U.S. Presidential inauguration in January 2017, and Khawaja used the tickets to attend the inauguration with Nader as his guest.

In December 2019, Khawaja was indicted for his role in the scheme. Nader is currently serving a five-year prison term on unrelated charges in the Eastern District of Virginia and will begin serving the sentence he received today at the conclusion of the five-year term.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI Washington Field Office investigated the case.

Senior Litigation Counsel Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) prosecuted the case. Michelle K. Parikh, Tanya D. Senanayake, Michael J. Romano, and James C. Mann were previously assigned to the case as PIN Trial Attorneys and made substantial contributions.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated July 18, 2023

Public Corruption
Voting and Elections
Press Release Number: 23-775