Washington lobbyist Robert Cabelly was charged today with a range of violations involving work he allegedly did for the government of Sudan and that country’s oil industry, as well as lying about and trying to hide the work.
Cabelly, who worked for the State Department on Africa issues during the Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton administrations, is the principal of DC consulting firm C/R International LLC.
The Justice Department press release outlines the charges in the indictment:
According to the indictment, between early 2005 and mid-2007, Cabelly performed work on behalf of the Republic of Sudan, a country currently on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list, without the approval of the U.S. government as is required by law under the Sudanese sanctions regulations. In an effort to make money, Cabelly brokered business contracts and transactions benefiting Sudan. He also provided Sudan with U.S. government information that was sensitive and controlled. All the while, Cabelly affirmatively misrepresented to U.S. officials the nature of his relationship with Sudan, as well as his relationship with the foreign entities doing business in Sudan.
Among other acts alleged in the indictment, Cabelly engaged in illicit contractual relationships with the oil industry in Sudan, operating as an intermediary between Sudanese government officials and oil company executives and a foreign oil company, and sought additional investors on behalf of that foreign oil company so that it could do business in the Sudan. He also allegedly provided strategic advice and counsel to Sudanese officials, including in the areas of economic development and trade, especially as it pertained to the development of the country’s petroleum natural resource and its government controlled airline industry.
According to the indictment, Cabelly was paid for these services by Sudanese government officials as well as by a foreign oil company. Cabelly allegedly directed a foreign oil company to deposit over $180,000 of the fees he received in an offshore account he maintained in the Cook Islands, an account he used to launder the funds in order to conceal the fact that it was proceeds obtained in violation of the sanctions. Cabelly also concealed his travel to the Sudan from U.S. authorities by misusing U.S. passports.
Work for the Sudanese regime has created problems for Cabelly in the past. This Washington Post article from 2006 describes his neighborhood being leafletted and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) publicly complaining about Cabelly’s lobbying contract.
After 13 years of government service, Cabelly carved out something of a niche representing African regimes with substandard human rights records. As the Post reported in 2006:
His clients have included Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Sudan. The State Department last year rated the human rights records of the first three governments as “poor” and Sudan’s as “extremely poor.”
Cabelly, who declined to speak publicly on the matter, reported to the Justice Department that his contract with Sudan paid his firm $530,000 a year plus transportation expenses.
Here’s the full indictment: