Lobbyist Abramoff to plead guilty in cryptocurrency fraud case

FILE PHOTO: Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff walks outside Miami's courthouse in Miami March 29, 2006. Abramoff, a disgraced lobbyist at the heart of a Washington influence-peddling scandal that has rattled top Republicans, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on Wednesday for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

(Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Thursday that lobbyist and former convict Jack Abramoff had agreed to plead guilty to violating a federal lobbying disclosure law in connection with an alleged fraudulent offering of the cryptocurrency AML Bitcoin.

Abramoff and Rowland Marcus Andrade, the chief executive of NAC Foundation, were accused of conspiring to make false and misleading statements to potential purchasers of the cryptocurrency. Andrade was also criminally charged in connection with the offering.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday announced parallel charges against NAC, Andrade and Abramoff. Abramoff, who once served four years in prison for bribing U.S. officials in a case that became synonymous with government corruption, also agreed to settle with the SEC.

Lawyers for Abramoff did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for NAC had no immediate comment. A lawyer for Andrade could not immediately be identified.

An unverified Twitter account that links to NAC, @AMLBitcoin, posted on Thursday following the charges that a public comment would be made soon and that “the AML Bitcoin Team will not allow anyone to EXTORT us even the U.S. Government!”

Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006 to felony counts of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion.

In addition to bribing government officials, Abramoff was accused of defrauding clients who were Native American tribes lobbying about reservation casinos.

Abramoff was released from federal prison in 2010 and was then subject to three years on probation.

He returned to lobbying in late 2016 (here) when he tried unsuccessfully to set up a meeting and phone call between Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso and then-President-elect Donald Trump via Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, according to a public disclosure filed with the U.S. Department of Justice the next year.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Lawrence Delevingne and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Leslie Adler, Dan Grebler and Tom Brown