In July, shortly after Mayor Rahm Emuel’s Chicago bond rating was triple-downgraded by Moody’s S&P and just before the city released its Annual Financial Forecast which shows the city will be spending $1 billion it will not have in 2015–Amer Ahmad, the city comptroller, announced his “retirement” and return to the private sector.
Just weeks after his departure, Ahmad is the subject of a federal indictment, facing charges ranging from money laundering, conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, federal program bribery, and making false statements.
Ahmad, who made no mention of where in the private sector he would be going, received thanks upon his departure from Emanuel. The mayor stated, “Amer has played an integral role in my efforts to reform government, strengthen the city’s finances and professionalize our approach to fiscal management.”
A closer examination (or a simple Google search) reveals significant details about Ahmad’s questionable practices while Deputy Treasurer of Ohio and his relationships at the Noor Islamic Center he attended in Columbus, OH.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
According to the indictment, Ahmad steered [Ohio] state investment business to a broker whose firm made $3.2 million in commissions on 360 trades on behalf of the Ohio treasurer’s office. The broker, Douglas E. Hampton, a high school classmate who had served as Ahmad’s investment adviser since 1996, allegedly funneled more than $400,000 in the form of phony loans to a landscaping business owned by Ahmad and Chicagoan Joseph Chiavaroli, prosecutors said.
In addition, Hampton allegedly steered $123,000 in money disguised as legal fees to Mohammed Noure Alo, a lawyer and lobbyist who was a “close personal friend and business associate” of Ahmad, prosecutors said.
When Emanuel brought Ahmad to City Hall in late April 2011, newspapers in Ohio already had raised questions about the links between Ahmad and Alo after a Boston-based bank won business from the Ohio treasurer’s office after hiring Alo as its lobbyist. Alo, 35, of Columbus, also was indicted Thursday in the alleged scheme.
The Tribune, while acknowledging reports from Ohio newspapers about the relationship between Ahmad and Alo (prior to joining Emanuel’s team), fails to make any mention that both belonged to the Noor Islamic Center, a mosque with alleged ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In October 2010, again, prior to his arrival in Chicago, Townhall’s Joel Mowbray reported:
The founder of the mosque [Noor Islamic Center], Dr. Hany Saqr, was listed in a leadership directory of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, which was submitted as a government exhibit in the successful Holy Land Foundation prosecution. “The Muslim Brotherhood is an international organization that seeks to spread a puritanical form of Islam, and it has served as the parent for every major Sunni terrorist group, from Hamas to Islamic Jihad to al Qaeda,” explains terrorism expert Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Ahmad doesn’t just attend services at Noor Islamic Center, either. When he was looking for a receptionist, he shunned the common practice of publicly posting the opening and instead announced it only at his mosque. The woman he hired is the wife of his personal friend, Noure Alo.
As it happens, Alo scored a lobbying contract from State Street Bank this year  shortly after the firm submitted bids for custodianship of Ohio’s massive pension funds. Alo–whose specialty as a lawyer is immigration, not banking–had never before had been hired as a lobbyist. State Street won three of the four bids, winning custodianship of over $32 billion in assets.
Sarah Hamilton, communications director for the mayor, said in a statement, “We have no reason to believe and have no knowledge of any such wrongdoing during his tenure in Chicago… But we will take any action that is needed–including conducting a review of Finance Department activities over the last two years–to ensure that Chicago taxpayers are protected.”
Douglas E. Hampton pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court on August 14; Joseph Chiavaroli followed suit, pleading guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering on August 15. Amer Ahmad pleaded not guilty on Monday in federal court.
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