Large US political donor in jail in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — A dual American and Lebanese citizen charged in the U.S. with conspiring to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in donations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election is in jail in Lithuania, police disclosed Monday.

Police said Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja “performed multimillion-dollar transactions and was in possession of significant amounts of money” when arrested.

His detention on Sept. 3 on an international arrest warrant was kept secret, and police confirmed it only after Monday’s ruling by a court in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, that he should remain in jail pending extradition hearings.

”The arrest was made exactly two months before the U.S. presidential elections and the detention period was also just the same two months,“ Khawaja lawyer Vilija Viesunaite told the news portal.

“I would not rule out the possibility that several unusual factors had an impact on these decisions and my client‘s rights were violated,” she was quoted as saying.

Khawaja is in custody at the request of the U.S. pursuant to an indictment issued in 2019. A Justice Department spokesperson said the agency generally does not comment on extradition matters until the defendant is returned to the United States.

Khawaja made his fortune in online payment processing by providing a key conduit in e-commerce for “high risk” merchants by helping route customers’ credit card purchases to banks.

He is the owner of an online payments company Allied Wallet Inc., and has contributed at least $6 million to Democratic and Republican candidates and groups. The donations earned Khawaja access to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign and a post-election Oval Office visit with President Donald Trump, according to a 2018 Associated Press investigation.

Court documents made public in December 2019 indicate that the indictment charged that Khawaja had aided an unnamed female candidate. Federal donor records show Khawaja gave millions of dollars to Democratic candidates, including the main political action committee supporting Clinton’s campaign. He also donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund.

He is married to a Lithuanian citizen and has property in the Baltic country.