Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Personal loan or illegal gift?

Engel stonewalls News

By Christopher Hagedorn
BRONX, NEW YORK, July 6- The question of whether or not Rep. Eliot Engel accepted an illegal gift from his largest campaign contributor of up to $250,000 to purchase a co-op in Riverdale as his primary residence is shrouded by his refusal to disclose the terms of a personal loan.
Several facts are known about the loan:
                       Engel wrongly listed it as a “mortgage” on a financial disclosure statement.
                       He received it from Harry Bajraktari, a contributor.
                       No records or documents, other than his federal financial disclosure statement filed in May, reflect the loan as a financial liability.
                       The New York City record of the purchase of the co-op at 3725 Henry Hudson Parkway shows a transaction in cash.
                       City records show no co-op loan, neither personal nor conventional.
                       The House Ethics Committee will not confirm or deny whether Engel received approval for the loan from a contributor, though Engel claims he did get approval
                       Reviews of Engel's finances by an accountant, as reflected by his financial disclosure statement,put in doubt whether he could have received a co-op loan from a financial institution.
                       Engel has refused to reveal any details of the loan, including interest rate and repayment schedule, according to the Daily News.
The House Ethics Committee has strict standards for gifts, to delineate legality. Rules on gifts state representatives “may accept a loan from a person other than a financial institution, provided that the loan is on commercially reasonable terms, including requirements for repayment and a reasonable rate of interest.”
Engel's refusal to disclose the repayments schedule and rate of interest for a loan from a major contributor is problematic.
Harry Bajraktari is not just a supporter, but also a person with a vested interest in his agenda as an Albanian-American leader, an activist in the Kosovo independence movement.
Bajraktari has invested years in cultivating Engel's allegiance to his cause.
Reportedly, an Albanian supporter said, “Remember that it was Eliot Engel, who, during one of his visits to Pristina, stood in the square and told the Kosovo Albanian mob that he wanted to be the first U.S. ambassador to return to an independent Kosova.”
Engel reported on his financial disclosure statement, filed in May 2012 for calendar year 2011 that he had a “mortgage loan” on his primary residence at 3725 Henry Hudson Parkway, a two-bedroom co-op apartment that he bought in February 2011. A spokesman for Engel told the Daily News, “There is no actual mortgage on the property as this is a personal loan.”
City records of the co-op purchase for $280,000 disclosed no indebtedness in the transaction.
Bajraktari's monetary noblesse has rewarded Engel in another way, by granting him a partnership stake in a Bronx building. Engel failed to disclose the partnership for two years. According to the congressman, in 2008, over drinks, Bajraktari asked him if Engel wanted a “piece” of a building he was buying. Engel recited to the Daily News that $20,000 to $30,000 bought 24 percent of a building purchased for $400,000 Verizon Wireless Prepaid - $50 p/month unlimited text and talk!

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