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WP: Azerbaijan is suspected of trying to bribe members of the US Congress
According to the newspaper, the Azerbaijani oil company paid for the trip of congressmen to Baku, seeking an exemption from the sanctions regime
In 2013, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) secretly financed all expenses related to the travel to a conference in Baku of ten members of Congress and 32 employees of its staff..
This was reported by the Washington Post, citing a confidential report by the Congressional Ethics Department in its possession..
The newspaper also reported that three former senior Obama aides spoke at the conference: Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and David Plough..
Legislators and their staff received hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and gifts: silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani carpets worth between $ 2,500 and $ 10,000, the publication said, citing the report..
Only the cost of air tickets for legislators, and in some cases their spouses, according to the documents cited, amounted to about 113 thousand dollars.
The authors of the 70-page report suggest that the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) transferred $ 750,000 to non-profit organizations in the United States to hide the funding source for the conference in the former Soviet republic..
These NGOs allegedly filed false documents with Congress that they sponsored the conference, according to the Washington Post..
The results of the investigation were referred to the House Ethics Committee to investigate possible violations of Congressional regulations and federal laws prohibiting foreign governments from influencing American policy..
SOCAR issued a statement in which it indicated that it did not make a secret of the fact that it supported the holding of the conference, and accused the NGOs of not submitting the relevant documents on information disclosure, writes The Washington Post.
The American-Azerbaijan Congress “Looking into the Future” was held on May 28-29, 2013, the newspaper writes. During the year preceding it, SOCAR and several large energy companies sought to exclude themselves from the US economic sanctions against Iran regarding the construction of a gas pipeline in the Caspian Sea worth 28 billion dollars.
The Congressional Ethics Office is an independent investigative body of the House of Representatives.
Representatives Jim Bridenstine, Yvette Clarke, Danny Davis, Ruben Hinojosa, Sheila Jackson Lee, Leonard Lance, Michelle Luhan Grisham, Gregory Meeks and Ted Poe, as well as now former Congressman Steve Stockman, participated in the trip, according to the newspaper..