Hina Alvi, 33, is the wife of Imran Awan, who was arrested for bank fraud while trying to leave the country for Pakistan. He and Alvi are part of a group of IT aides being investigated for a “procurement scam.” Alvi is already in Pakistan with their children.
Here’s what you need to know about Hina Alvi.
1. Alvi Was Stopped by Federal Investigators Before She Left the Country with Their Three Daughters
According to an affidavit that you can read below, Alvi was stopped by investigators on March 5, 2017 before she left Dulles International Airport with their three daughters, heading to Pakistan. According to the affidavit, her children had been abruptly taken out of school without notifying the public school system.
The affidavit states that she had luggage and cardboard boxes with clothing, food, and household goods. Customs searched her bags and found $12,400 in U.S. cash. She and her daughters were permitted to board and have not returned to the U.S. since.
ALVI was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States. ALVI has a return flight booked for September 2017. Based on your Affiant’s observations at Dulles Airport, and upon his experience and training, your Affiant does not believe that ALVI has any intention to return to the United States.”
The affidavit, which details Alvi’s departure and the reason for Awan’s arrest, can be read below.
2. According to Court Documents, Her Husband Awan Was Arrested While Trying to Leave the Country
Awan, 37, was at Dulles International Airport trying to leave the country when he was arraigned and surrendered his passport, Chad Pergram of Fox News reported. Awan was charged with bank fraud. The U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, and Customs and Border Protection were all involved in the arrest. According to court documents, shown above, he had bought a ticket to fly to Doha, Qatar and then Lahore, Pakistan, and had a return flight booked for January.
Awan pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud and he was ordered to turn over his passports. A hearing is scheduled for August 21 at 1:45 p.m.
The affidavit alleges that Awan “knowingly” engaged in a scheme to “defraud the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union to obtain money owned by … CFCU.”
The affidavit alleges that a home equity line of credit was obtained to defraud CFCU based on two misrepresentations: 1.) that Awan’s and his wife Hina Alvi’s property was a primary residence, not a rental, and 2.) that Alvi intended to use the property as a permanent residence even though she was already renting property somewhere else. The loan was in the amount of $165,000 and was wired to Pakistan.
The affidavit states that on January 18, a CFCU representative called and asked to speak to Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. A male answered and pretended to be Alvi and said the purpose of the requested wire transfer was funeral arrangements. When told this wasn’t an acceptable reason for a wire, the person said it was to buy property. “The representative accepted that reason and initiated the wire transfer to Pakistan. Bank records show that $165,000.00 of $283,000.00 wired to Pakistan was from” a home equity line of credit.
3. Alvi and Awan Are Being Investigated for an Alleged ‘Procurement Scam’
Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, along with several other related IT staffers are under investigation since February, Politico reported. The other staffers possibly being investigated in some fashion are Jamal Awan, Abid Awan, (both brothers of Awan), and friend Rao Abbas, The New York Post reported.
Although Awan has been charged, Alvi has not. Fox News reported that at least five contractors, including Awan and his brothers Jamal and Abid, were being investigated for possibly removing equipment from offices, including computers and servers. Fox News reported in March that the allegations included running a procurement scheme that involved buying equipment, then double-billing the House administrative office, and possibly having unauthorized access to the House computer system. Items that may have been double-billed included computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards, and routers.
Some have questioned whether the allegations might have led to the DNC hacks, but sources originally told Fox that there is no evidence that this was connected to the hacks that happened during the campaign. Fox more recently reported that authorities are looking into whether the IT workers put any sensitive House information on the cloud, possibly allowing it “to be exposed to outside sources.”
4. Awan’s Attorney Said Alvi Left the Country Because of Harassment from Right Wing Bloggers
Awan’s attorney, Christopher Gowen, told CNN that Alvi and other members of Awan’s family were staying with extended family in Pakistan because right wing bloggers had been fixated on them and had started harassing them. “This is a truly political thing,” he said.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said Awan had a GPS monitor on and couldn’t go more than 50 miles from his home.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have said that they are pretty much responsible for vetting their own staff, WJLA reported. Rep. Gerry Connolly said, “There’s no central system for vetting staff and over the years it’s by and large mostly worked well.”
Mark Strand, president of the Congressional Institute and a former Capitol Hill staffer, told WJLA that there are no exams or certificates required to vet IT staff and make sure they’re properly trained. Each staff member also determines for themselves how strictly data is secured.
5. Alvi Made More than $1 Million Since 2007
Alvi had been working as an IT support staffer for the House Democrats since 2007, and had earned more than $1.3 million total. Meanwhile, Awan had earned nearly $2 million since 2004 as an IT staffer. Although Awan had worked for Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was the last to fire him, Alvi had not.
Back in March, Alvi was let go as IT support staff for Rep. Gregory Meeks, Politico reported. Meeks clarified in March that she was let go not because he suspected she was actually involved in a crime, but because the investigation was interrupting his office’s daily work. Meeks told Politico that he wasn’t sure that he believed the accusations, because he was afraid the staffers’ Muslim American background and ties to Pakistan made them targets:
I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion. We want to make sure everybody is entitled to due process.”