Israeli men in US court over Zimbabwe sactions bid

U.S Federal prosecutors have charged two Chicago men with allegedly violating U.S. law by agreeing to help Zimbabwe’s president get sanctions against his country lifted.

The charges were unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago against 72-year-old Prince Asiel Ben Israel and 71-year-old C. Gregory Turner.

The complaint says the men met with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gov. Gideon Gono and other officials “multiple times” in the U.S. and Africa. They allegedly agreed to lobby U.S. federal and state officials on Zimbabwe’s behalf in exchange for $3.4 million.

Ben Israel’s attorney, Viviana Ramirez, says it’s too early to address the merits of the case. Turner is believed to be living in Israel.

Mugabe’s government has been under sanctions since 2003 for alleged democratic violations.

In recent years Mugabe has engaged former Israeli spy agents to work out his survival.

It is believed his long standing key man Ari Ben Manashe is the middleman for the Tel Aviv-based technology company Nikuv International which is at the centre of vote rigging in Zimbabwe.

Last year, Manashe escaped arson attack when his was gutted by fire.

The Montreal home of the self-described Israeli spy was ‘gutted’ in alleged firebombing.

Firefighters cut away a smouldering section of a home on Jean Girard St. in Montreal Monday, December 3, 2012 after an overnight fire. The home was believed to be owned by international lobbyist Ari Ben-Menashe.

A controversial consultant with ties to political despots and businessmen all over the world, Mr. Ben-Menashe is an inveterate deal-maker whose activities occasionally cause problems — for associates, for himself.

Mr. Ben-Menashe is normally tight-lipped about his business dealings and personal life. But last year, he complained publicly about alleged mistreatment from “people in high places,” after four of Canada’s largest banks threatened to close every account he held with them.

According to his legal counsel, Mr. Ben-Menashe had been placed on an international list of “politically exposed” people by the London-based company World Check. Its private database is used by banks and law-enforcement agencies to prevent “financial crime and corruption,” according to a company news release.

He’s an Iranian-born Jew, raised in Tehran. He claims to have worked as a globe-trotting Israeli intelligence officer until his 1989 arrest in the U.S., on charges that he had attempted to sell three military transport airplanes to Iran.

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