Ex-US envoy to UAE and Pakistan gets 3 years of probation for ethics violations

Richard Olson, a former US ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, was sentenced to three years of probation on Friday for violating federal ethics laws.

The 63-year-old Olson was also fined $93,400 after pleading guilty to charges he misused his official position for personal gain.

Olson, who served as the US envoy to Pakistan from 2012 to 2015, pleaded guilty in June of last year to making a false statement and violating laws governing lobbying for a foreign government.

Olson was accused of helping the government of Qatar influence US policymakers shortly after retiring from the State Department in 2016.

“US law prohibits senior officials — like the defendant — from representing a foreign government before any federal agency or from aiding or advising a foreign entity with the intent to influence the US government for one year after leaving their positions,” the US Attorney’s Office for Washington said in a statement.

“The defendant took numerous steps to conceal these illegal activities, including deleting incriminating emails and lying to the FBI during a recorded interview,” it said.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, Olson, while serving as the US envoy to Pakistan, also received favors and benefits from a Pakistani-American businessman identified in court documents only as “Person 1.”

They included $25,000 paid to Olson’s then-girlfriend to help pay her tuition at Columbia University in New York and $18,000 in first class travel for the ambassador to attend a job interview in London.

“One major favor was that the defendant agreed to lobby members of Congress on Person 1’s behalf with respect to weapon sales to Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries that Person 1 was trying to broker,” the US Attorney’s office said.

According to The Washington Post, “Person 1” is Imaad Zuberi, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2021 for making illegal campaign contributions and other offenses.

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