Former speaker of US House of Representatives indicted

Washington, May 29 (IANS): The US Department of Justice has indicted former speaker of the House of Representatives, Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert, who allegedly paid some $1.7 million to cover up financial misconduct and hid from the FBI information on large cash withdrawals, Efe news agency reported.

The US Attorney's Office said on Thursday that Hastert, who left office in 2007, was charged with withdrawing from his bank accounts $952,000 in cash in such a way as to evade the requirement for banks to report cash transactions over $10,000 and then lying to the FBI about the withdrawals.

The indictment also says that the former speaker paid about $1.7 million in cash to buy the silence of a long-time acquaintance, identified in the documents as "Individual A", regarding unspecified misconduct by Hastert against that person years earlier.

The 73-year-old Hastert, a former high school teacher, headed the House from 1999 to 2007 and later worked in Washington as a lobbyist.

The indictment -- each count of which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine -- was announced in the Northern Illinois District Court, but it does not specify what the misconduct was that led the former lawmaker to agree to the extortion and lie to federal authorities about withdrawing the cash.

The Justice Department had detected large cash withdrawals from Hastert's bank accounts and financial transactions by the unnamed individual between 2010 and 2014.

Hastert also stands accused of tax evasion.



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