December 7, 2022

Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry indicted over illegal campaign contributions made by Nigerian-born billionaire Gilbert Chagoury

Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska speaks at a committee hearing in July.
UNITED STATES - JULY 26: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., speaks as the House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule on the H.R.4502 appropriations bill on Monday, July 26, 2021. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A Republican House of Representatives member from Nebraska, Jeff Fortenberry, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States over illegal campaign contributions made by Nigerian-born billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.

The Chagoury family, which originally immigrated from Lebanon, is an influential family in Nigeria and has close ties to the former governor of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is nourishing ambitions to run for President. Tinubu is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Chagoury family owns Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos.

Gilbert Chagoury (photo: Bruno Levy)

Nuhu Ribadu, then Nigeria’s anti-corruption prosecutor said in 2004 that Gilbert Chagoury, a one-time adviser to late dictator Sani Abacha, was the kingpin in the corruption that defined Abacha’s regime. Abacha stole billions of dollars from Nigeria, helped by the Chagoury family.

“You couldn’t investigate corruption without looking at Chagoury,” Ribadu told Robin Urevich of PBS in an interview in California.

The current Nigerian President, Buhari, worked for Abacha, and remains his fan to this day. Abacha and the Chagoury stole so much money from Nigeria that the Chagourys became powerful businessmen, and some of their stolen assets are now helping elect lawmakers right here in the United States. 

Bola Tinubu

The federal grand jury alleged that the GOP Rep. concealed information and made false statements to authorities. He has been charged with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.

In an email to his supporters on Tuesday, Fortenberry warned his supporters that he would be facing charges in the FBI campaign finance probe – and trying to raise money off of it, Politico reported. He said the allegations were “entirely false.”

Eko Hotels in Lagos Nigeria owned by Gilbert Chagoury

Politico quoted Fortenberry as saying that “he first became involved in the FBI investigation when a foreign national tried to funnel $30,000 to him during a fundraiser in 2016, during which he raised a total of roughly $37,000. And he denied knowing about the origins of the majority of the cash, while claiming the FBI “assured and reassured” him that he was not a target.”

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