Branch of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and Two Officers Indicted
for Conspiring to Defraud U.S. Government
OREGON (FBI) — A federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon has returned
a three-count indictment against the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation,
Inc. (U.S.) and two of its officers on charges of conspiring to
defraud the U.S. government, the Department of Justice announced.
charges that defendants Pirouz Sedaghaty, also known as Pete Seda
and Abu Yunus, and Soliman Al-Buthe conspired with the U.S. branch
of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc., to defraud the U.S.
government by obtaining $150,000 in funds intended for distribution
in Chechnya, and concealing their intent by filing a false tax
return and failing to acknowledge they were transporting funds
out of the United States.
returned by a federal grand jury yesterday, alleges that in February
2000, an Egyptian contacted the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, seeking to donate $150,000 "in order
to participate in your nobel support to our muslim brothers in
Chychnia (sic)….," and wire transferred the funds to an
Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc. bank account in Ashland,
Oregon. According to the indictment, Al-Buthe then flew from Saudi
Arabia to Oregon, and went to a bank with Sedaghaty to retrieve
the funds. At the bank, Al-Buthe and Sedaghaty allegedly obtained
130 American Express Travelers Checks in $1,000 denominations
and a $21,000 cashier’s check made out to Al-Buthe. The indictment
alleges that Al-Buthe immediately departed the United States with
the $150,000 and intentionally failed to file a report, as required
by U.S. law, acknowledging he was transporting more than $10,000
in travelers checks out of the country.
further charges Sedaghaty and the U.S. branch of the Al-Haramain
Islamic Foundation, Inc., with filing a false tax return in 2000.
U.S. law requires tax exempt charitable organizations like Al-Haramain
to report all donations it received and distributed in a return
filed with the Internal Revenue Service, which monitors the activities
of tax exempt organizations. According to the indictment, Sedaghaty,
on behalf of the U.S. branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation,
Inc., deliberately filed a false return with the IRS in 2000 by
falsely reporting that the Egyptian donor’s funds were used to
purchase a building in Missouri, rather than being transported
out of the United States.
system of charitable donations in the United States is built on
trust, honesty and integrity, particularly in the reporting of
donations and taxes to the U.S. government," said U.S. Attorney
Karin J. Immergut of the District of Oregon. "The Department
of Justice has a duty to investigate and prosecute any cases where
that trust is abused criminally, and where a charity violates
the law in order to hide its activities from the government."
and Al-Buthe are believed to be outside of the United States.
Sedaghaty faces up to eight years in prison, and Al-Buthe faces
up to 10 years in prison. The indictment also seeks to have $130,000
forfeited from the U.S. branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation,
organization, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, formerly based in
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was not charged in the indictment.
was conducted by criminal investigators with the Internal Revenue
Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon.
are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed
to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.