Testy Meeks Disclosed Loan Only After FBI Inquiry

Meeks photoAccording to the New York Daily News today:

Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks made no payments for three years on a secret $40,000 personal loan – and repaid the cash only when the FBI started asking questions…

Meeks received a check for $40,000 from Queens businessman Ed Ahmad in January 2007 to finish paying off his new $830,000 home, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Meeks first disclosed the loan on his financial disclosure report that all members of Congress were required to file by May 17 for the preceding 2009 calendar year. Meeks filed late on June 15. Click here to download a 5-page pdf of the report. The Ahmad loan was made in 2007, meaning Meeks failed to disclose it on his 2007 and 2008 forms.

Meeks then filed two letter “amendments,” both dated June 18, but filed separately on June 21 and 23. Both state that “the loan has been repaid in its entirety,” but neither contained any specific loan terms. Click here to download a 2-page pdf of the letters.

Citing unnamed sources, the Daily News reports that Meeks made no payments on the loan until after the FBI contacted Ahmad earlier this year. Meeks cut a check for $59,000 to reflect the $40,000 principal and accrued interest of 12.5%, according to the News’s sources.

Meeks told the Daily News that he cannot provide documents to back up the loan, and that he “did not respond” to a request for copies of cancelled checks.

The FBI investigation is the apparent result of NLPC’s scrutiny of Meeks and other New York politicians.

In January, we exposed Meeks involvement in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it, among other questionable dealings. In March, we asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meeks for paying $830,000 for a newly built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. Click here to download a 26-page pdf of the Complaint.

The Complaint also asks for an investigation into Meeks’ relationship with indicted Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford, first reported in the Miami Herald. Former Stanford employees alleged that Stanford asked Meeks in 2006 to help retaliate against a former Stanford executive named Gonzalo Tirado in Venezuela who was attempting to blow the whistle on Stanford fraud. Stanford allegedly asked Meeks to contact Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. One month after Stanford made the request, Meeks flew to Venezuela to meet with Chavez. Tirado was indicted a year later.

In addition, Meeks took six trips to Caribbean destinations such as Antigua and St. Lucia, courtesy of a nonprofit called the Inter-American Economic Council, which was a Stanford-funded front group.

Meeks sits on the conference committee for the Frank-Dodd bill that would overhaul financial services regulation, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to a report by the SEC inspector general in April, the agency ignored specific information for eight years from several sources that Stanford was running a Ponzi scheme, just as it had ignored similar information about Bernard Madoff.

Neither Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who appointed Meeks to the conference, or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have had a thing to say about the propriety of Meeks’ participation.

If Meeks is getting a pass from the House leadership, there is evidence that the coverage by the New York media is starting to wear. He told the Daily News:

“I have complied with the Ethics Committee requirements. I told you about five times. These were oversights made back in 2007 that I regret, but I have corrected them. I’ve answered your questions.”

“I’m done,” he said, then hung up the phone.

UPDATE 7/9/10: The Daily News reports today that Meeks received a loan from Democratic Party donor Dennis Mehiel to repay Ahmad. According to the Daily News:

On June 18, Meeks signed a 10-year loan for $59,650 from Mehiel’s firm, Four Investments, at 7.3% annual interest.

A review of property records found no evidence that Four Investments has made any similar loans in New York.

Mehiel and his wife have donated nearly $493,000 to Democratic Party candidates and committees since 2004.

The top beneficiaries include Hillary Clinton ($55,800) and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ($18,100).

Mehiel and his wife, Karen, donated $9,600 to Meeks on July 30, 2009, records show.

He did not return calls for comment but told The New York Times in February, “I’m a longtime personal friend or acquaintance of virtually every Democratic member of Congress from New York.”


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