Published: Thu, December 20, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Ex-Flynn biz partner charged in lobbying case

Ex-Flynn biz partner charged in lobbying case

His case was connected to new charges unveiled on Monday against associates of Michael Flynn.

In an indictment, unsealed in the federal court, the US government accuses Bijan Rafiekian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin of conspiring to influence USA officials and the public on behalf of the Turkish government.

They are both charged with conspiracy to operate as unregistered foreign agents and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Alptekin used his Netherlands-based private company to pay "Company A", which is believed to be Michael Flynn's lobbying firm Flynn Intel Group.

Kian - in consultation with Turkish officials - drafted parts of the op-ed, the indictment alleges.

The plot included using a company founded by Rafiekian and a person referred to as "Person A" [Flynn] in the indictment.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Gulen for stoking a failed coup against him in 2016 - and his foreign minister grabbed headlines on Sunday by saying that Trump told Erdogan that Washington was working on extraditing the cleric. The goal of the work was to get the United States to expel Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen from the country. The cleric's religious movement runs schools in around 150 countries, including the US, and Turkey has accused the schools of financial fraud and other crimes.

A senior White official pushed back on that assertion on Monday, stressing that Trump did not commit during a meeting with Erdogan at the G20 summit two weeks ago to extradite Gulen, who denies involvement in the coup attempt.

According to Flynn's retroactive FARA filing, his company was engaged to make a film about Gulen but the film was never completed.

The indictment charges that the objective of the conspiracy was to use Company A to delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of the American public and United States politicians, with the goal of obtaining [Gulen's] extradition, which was meeting resistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Ekim maintains that the government of Turkey was not a participant in any of the work that he did with the Flynn Intel Group".

On Aug. 10, 2016, Alptekin wrote to Rafiekian that he met with the Turkish official to explain their proposed approach to securing Gulen's extradition.

"We are ready to engage on what needs to be done", Kian wrote Alptekin, on July 27. "I have a green light to discuss confidentiality, budget, and the scope of the contract". Alptekin has said the payments were refunds for unfulfilled work. Three days later, on September 12, 2016, Rafiekian emailed an employee at Flynn Intel wire $40,000 to Alptekin, who he referred to as an "outside advisor" on the project.

During an interview with the FBI, Alptekin said that while he had discussed the project with a Turkish government minister he chose to go ahead and retain the Flynn Intel Group himself after the Turkish government "dropped the ball".

Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, who paid Kian and Flynn, was also charged in the indictment, but he remained overseas, the newspaper added.

The Turkey case against Kian and Alptekin, though, is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Gillis and Evan Turgeon in the Eastern District of Virginia, not the special counsel.

"This is a very high profile exposure one day before the election", Kian emailed Alptekin, before the opinion piece's publication. "If he had asked me, I would have strongly advised him not to publish the article because I knew the Fetullah Gulen lobby and PR machine will do everything in their power to demonize him; which is exactly what they did", Alptekin told TheDC on November 19, 2016. Flynn's lawyer has denied any such discussion.

Rafiekian claimed that Alptekin did not want the anti-Gulen op-ed published and that the kickback payments to Inovo BV were refunds for lobbying activities that were not performed. Prosecutors recommended he serve no prison time, and said he helped with Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, and also a separate criminal investigation.

The release of the indictment comes a day before Flynn is due to be sentenced in federal court in Washington for making false statements to FBI agents.

The op-ed raised alarm bells at the time, particularly given Flynn's soon-to-be official role as national security adviser. He later admitted that the op-ed was part of the covert Turkish lobbying project.

Flynn was charged by Mueller for lying to investigators previous year, including about his work at the Flynn Intel Group Inc. on behalf of Turkey.

Like this: