Former US Envoy to Pakistan sentenced to probation for ethics violations

US Envoy sentenced to probation

WASHINGTON: Former US ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, Richard Olson, sentenced to three-year  and fined $93,400 on Friday for violating federal ethics laws after admitting guilt to charges related to the misuse of his official position for personal benefit.

Olson, aged 63, had pleaded guilty in June of the preceding year to making a false statement and violating lobbying laws concerning foreign governments. These charges stemmed from his alleged involvement in assisting the government of Qatar in influencing US policymakers shortly after retiring from the State Department in 2016.

Under US law, senior officials, such as Olson, are prohibited from representing foreign governments before federal agencies or aiding foreign entities with the intent to influence the US government for one year after leaving their positions. The US Attorney’s Office for Washington emphasized that Olson had taken various measures to conceal these illicit activities, including deleting incriminating emails and providing false information during an FBI interview, which was recorded.

During his tenure as the US envoy to Pakistan, Olson was reported to have received favors and benefits from a Pakistani-American businessman, referred to in court documents as “Person 1.” These benefits included a $25,000 payment to Olson’s then-girlfriend to support her tuition at Columbia University in New York and $18,000 in first-class travel expenses for the ambassador to attend a job interview in London.

A significant aspect of Olson’s involvement was his agreement to lobby members of Congress on behalf of “Person 1” regarding weapon sales to Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries, which “Person 1” was attempting to facilitate, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

The Washington Post has identified “Person 1” as Imaad Zuberi, who received a 12-year prison sentence in 2021 for illegal campaign contributions and other related offenses.


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