‘Mugabe promised $3,4m to US lobbyists’

TWO United States men have been charged with illegally lobbying to have sanctions lifted against President Robert Mugabe.

Mail and Guardian

US federal prosecutors have announced charges against two Chicago men, whom they accuse of illegally lobbying US lawmakers to lift sanctions against Mugabe and members of his regime in exchange for a promised $3,4 million.

Prince Asiel Ben Israel (72) and Gregory Turner (71) allegedly tried to persuade unnamed US state and federal lawmakers to oppose the sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The charges against them indicate that the men met with Mugabe, Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and other officials “multiple times” in the US and in Africa, and allegedly agreed to lobby US federal and state officials on Zimbabwe’s behalf in exchange for the promised payments, which the defendants apparently weren’t able to collect in full.

The accused allegedly also got several unnamed state and federal lawmakers to write letters expressing their interest or commitment to helping Mugabe and Gono, arranged for Mugabe to meet with federal and state government officials in New York and attempted to get Gono and other Zimbabwean officials on a list of speakers at a forum hosted by a Californian member of the House of Representatives.

According to the charges, Ben Israel and Turner began talking with Mugabe and other Zimbabwean leaders in early November 2008 regarding the influence they could exert to lift the sanctions originally imposed by former US president George W Bush.

The defendants allegedly discussed with Mugabe, Gono and others their ties to several public officials who supposedly had close connections to President Barack Obama.

The complaint states that Ben Israel and Turner engaged in public relations, political consulting and lobbying efforts and had a “consulting agreement” from November 2008 that called for an initial payment of $90 000 and three subsequent instalments of $1,1 million each.

The defendants allegedly arranged for Ben Israel to travel to South Africa with two Illinois lawmakers in early December 2008. Travel records allegedly show that the two lawmakers travelled to Israel, but did not return as scheduled and extended their overseas stay.

Three days after the men from Illinois returned in mid-December, a scheduler for President-elect Obama’s transition team sent an email to another transition team member saying that one of the two men “wants a phone call from (transition team officials) regarding a meeting he had last week in Zimbabwe. I am not sure who to pass this on to, but it’s the second time they have called”.

The transition team forwarded the email on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation based on its concerns that the state representative may have violated sanctions by travelling to Zimbabwe.

It’s not illegal for public officials to meet with sanctioned Zimbabweans, but the sanctions do bar US citizens and residents from providing lobbying, public relations and media consultation services to the designated nationals.

Ben Israel appeared in a federal courtroom in Chicago on Tuesday, where the terms of his bail were changed to require him to remain in contact with the court’s pre-trial services department.

His wife, Hattie Brown, also appeared in court and promised the magistrate that she would turn in her husband if he attempts to flee.
The complaint against the pair alleges that they violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The violation carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Mugabe’s government has been under sanctions since 2003 for alleged democratic violations.

Obama has decided each year of his presidency to keep the Zimbabwe sanctions in place, most recently in March 2013.

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41 Comments

  1. Tendai Chaminuka

    Who says Zimbabwe is not under sanctions and the meltdown of our economy is because of mismanagement by Mugabe.Surprising that the beacon of democracy America is charging rational citizens who are lobbying for the removal of these inhuman sanctions whereas the so called demonic Mugabe Regime actually dines with people who advocated for the imposition sanctions.Mugabe mutumwa chaiye.Ane nyasha nevanhu vake

    1. Iwe how did rhodesia survive under sanctions? Kwana 33 years and zim’s economy is not self sustaining? Please explain what sanctions did to zimbabwe?

      Zanu failed the country period. Kukundwa ne rhodesia…..tinonyadzisa. Y is our economy not as big as the US’?

      Musangiwawata musina kufunga

      1. funga iwe

      2. murhodesia macho maiva nei chamaiti ndechenyu?

      3. george bachinche

        @obama4eva,

        You evince shameful cognitive paralysis.
        You don’t know that Rhodesia was maintained by white supremacists in the US, UK and the rest of western Europe. The Byrd amendment allowed US to continue importing chrome from Rhodesia even when the country was under UN sanctions.

        Why is our economy not as big as the US? Well for one we are a developing country, and people like you, are not producers of anything but expect to be fed.

        1. You speak nonsense George,Rhodesia did not have the Chinese,the second if not the largest economy to lean on,because America is now borrowing money from China.Neither did Rhodesia have diamonds and platinum.

      4. i think iwe ndiwe uri kungowawata usina kufunga. which other country in the world has an economy which is big as the US

        1. @ mudhara the way zanu speak of the zim economy its as if we bigger than the US and we don’t need the US and the west. The least zanu could have done was build a self-sustaining economy one which cannot be affected by the so called sanctions they keep singing about everyday…..my question is why with the ”help” we getting from eastern europe and asia why is our economy not improving? One thing is these asian countries are not major consumers or buyers like the western nations therefore they are here in Zimbabwe to take and feed 1.5billion people in China and to create jobs and provide health for such large population. The US buys more than China and it will make sense to develop trade partnerships with the US because they always looking to buy whereas China we competing with them to sell stuff to the west.

          If u look at it when US buys from CHina they indirectly buy from Zimbabwe and for us to make money as Zimbabwe we have to cut out the middleman (China) and go directly. Hazvibetsere kuswera uchitukana ne the west because those guys are too rich to be bothered by a 90 year old geriatric.

    2. sanctions must be removed

    3. Rubbish!

    4. What sanctions?. If Zimbabwe gets full sanctions it will fold within a month. Don’t listen to people who want to find excuses for poor leadership. 33 years of incompetence don’t you get tired of all these lame excuses. Cuba must be laughing at us for lapping the garbage being spewed by King Mugabe.

  2. Rather than giving that money 2 these US pple as bribery, Mgabe must donate it 2 the poor cevil servants.

    1. george bachinche

      @asylum,

      Becuase you have Chibhoyi thinking, you think there is free lunch everywhere.
      Lobbying is costly besiness. It involved spending money. by the lobbyist. How much has Zimbabwe
      lost through sanctions when compared to $3 milion?

  3. cursory observer

    ariben menashe,israel,turner,spooky2 of the infamous nikuv and many others we dont know from israel and or have a connection with the jewish state through blood/lineage are the ones who do the bidding 4shaddy guys,are they taking after shyelock,i hope not.

  4. cursory observer

    ariben menashe,israel,turner,spooky2 of the infamous nikuv and many shaddy others we dont know from israel and or have a connection with the jewish state through blood/lineage are the ones who do the bidding 4the other guys,are they taking after shyelock,i hope not.

  5. u dont buy favours with money,u just become democratic and sanctions will automatically go.mismanegement of funds,our diamond money is being put to waste,instead of reviveng industry they are busy paying lobbyist.

  6. i think 3.4 million should have to many ophanages across the country

  7. Kirimu Dhonanzi

    Well well so the revolutionary comrade Mugabe loves to be recognised by western powers after all, not to mention being allowed to shop in Western capitals such as Washington and Paris? That is why Cde Bob gets so angry whenever westerners spun him or show irritation at his style of governance. What a sorry apology for a man!

  8. We should look to the east harder .What is it that makes us fail when Smith succeeded despite sanctions.He had a war and enemies as neighbours.He did not ahve diamonds or Gas fields in Lupane.Why cant we just get Zimbabwe working!

    1. Smith had cheap labour silly!

  9. You people are crazy over false accusasions against the regime. Nyangwe mukanyora kusvika mapepa adambuka Zimbabwe haifi yakaenda pakutongwa naTsvangirai – period. Mugabe is making british and american people feel uneasy coz anotuka murume uyu and doesn’t get cornered when it matters most. African leaders at large have got their spokesperson, u included. Some legacies are better left to prevail than trying to tarnish ……….lest you wld be campaigning on behalf. Chakachenjedza ndechakatanga Zimbabwe hamutoikwanisi potse munotosungana munyika dzenyu ikoko kuWEST.

    1. uri shiri zvedi!!!

  10. I think Hilter was right after all when he wanted to destroy the jewish race. these jews are cruel. hereby they helped Zanu PF steal the rights and wishes of people thru their NIKIVU project and they still want to help him out of the sanctions. very cruel race indeed.May God forgive you.

  11. sanctions sanctions ,koo corruption iyoo hamusi kuiona here

    1. @lensol- imagine where the land would be without corruption!

    2. Vakomana mudhara Bhobho anoda UK na USA. Kungohukura kuhukura zvako. If the USA and UK are evil why bother. Why huwori hwekuda kuenda ko. Silly old man

  12. not a single progressive comment are we zimbabweans

  13. Oliver wekaMutare

    Dirty Old man

  14. The movie Coming to America 2013, starring RGM, was a flop!

  15. whatever takadzoka panyanga as dogs bark.

  16. no surprise here

  17. overheard in a bar in london

    Thingimabob “geeeez whathisname, this guy cant even lobby honestly”
    Whatshisname ” why you say that Thingimabob?”
    Thingimabob “he failed to pay these two Americans as he promised”
    Whatshisname “yeah well these Zimbobweans are like thatyaknow”

  18. Mugabe is very corrupt. I think he also bought Zuma and Obasanjo to endorse this biggest fraud on planet. US can’t be rigged. Now that vazvibata vachawedzera mamwe. Muchamama chete maZanu. Zimbabwe is now a Chinese colony. All our precious resources are going to China and in return you are given cheap products which aren’t durable. Zimbabwe is now a Colony

  19. Machinjamamamamese

    We won the election fair and square. Open zip is now history….

  20. Who’s is fooling who? Behind the scenes Mugabe is fighting for sanctions to be removed but in front of his supporters he is saying to hell with Britain and America.What busness does he want to do with EU…Sancions must stay Mugabe akajaidzwa Britain and America are not like useless SADC and AU who’s leaders are illiterate who always dance according to Mugabe’s tune.

  21. Foolish, who the hell are the so-called Prince Asiel Ben Israel (72) and Gregory Turner (71) who are trying to be heroes or our messiahs. Tisiyeyi nenyika yedu. Bring them sunctions…make them even tougher/harder/sterner/harsh/unbearable…this time round …go all the way and hang Bob upsidedown by his big balls. Ndozvatirikutoda …..handiti igandanga Bob …..anotyeyi?
    We dont need a saviour here …..tine African Union, real comrades who are willing to scratch our balls when they itch. Tisiyeyi takadaro nechinyika chedu chi Zimbabwe chakanaka!

  22. corruption begins with me and goes to all of us.kana neigbour wako ati tsika dzako nedzake hazvichawirirana iye haachakuda kumba kwake womumanikidza here?bobmugabe paying homosexual westeners to be admitted?eh makawinner keep you zimmbabwe…..

  23. Ahhh all said , mugabe is doing his best to fight the sanction , whatever means , but ka mochirega kutaura rubber baba, bob used to be inspirational in his speaches, now he is just foul mouthed , akasurirwa na Grace mukanwa

  24. and it happens again he is in a fix coz i forsee more sanctions on the way. trade is gonna be more than the word difficult. the last roads you will ever see being made are those done in the biti era……… goodbye development till 2018 maybe they will understand that they are bad at managing the country and let go on the power coz their corruption is deep rooted…… even the president is corrupt. nowonder why they dont want to set up an empowered anti corruption organization

  25. EARTHQUAKE31JULY

    Promised 3.4mln this DIAMOND cash now being dished to the so called imperialist.
    Saka who ndiyani akutengesa nyika ye zimbabwe nhai sekuru,TSVANGIRAI or MUGABE?
    Chiendai munozorora kwazvimba you are dishing our resoucrces to the west, unpenga here kamudhara iwe

  26. makambo ona chembere inoramba huchi?

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