Former U.S. Ambassador to Plead Guilty to Illegal Lobbying and Hiding Gifts
2022-04-30 - 9:27 p
Bahrain Mirror: Richard G. Olson, a retired diplomat who recently served as ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, said he would plead guilty to charges of illegally lobbying for the government of Qatar and failure to disclose gifts he received while he was an ambassador, according to court documents.
The Justice Department said in a filing that Mr. Olson had avoided disclosing in required ethics documents that he had received a first-class airplane ticket from New Mexico to London valued at more than $18,000 and a stay in a luxury hotel in London in January 2015.
The payments were made by a Pakistani American businessman whose name was not revealed in the documents. In London, the ambassador met with a businessman from Bahrain, who soon offered him a one-year contract with a salary of $300,000 that would start after he left the State Department.
The other lobbying effort in which Mr. Olson was involved occurred after Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 and blocked flights and ships from Qatar from using their airspace and sea lanes. The rupture became an international crisis. American military officials had to scramble to deal with the consequences of the blockade because the U.S. military's main air base in the Middle East is in Qatar.
Mr. Olson was paid to lobby officials in the Trump administration to encourage the U.S. government to help get the blockade lifted and repair diplomatic relations among the Persian Gulf nations, the Justice Department prosecutors said in their filing.
Qatar and the Emirates have poured money into Washington-based companies and research groups in recent years to try to influence U.S. policy.