Feds charge former DOJ official with alleged ties to conspiracy involving millions of dollars

PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7, 2018.PlayZach Gibson/Getty Images
WATCH News headlines today: Nov. 20, 2018

Federal authorities have accused a former Justice Department official and two others of taking part in a conspiracy tied to tens of millions of dollars in foreign money.

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However, details about the case remain secret, and Justice Department officials are so far declining to discuss anything further about it. Attempts by ABC News to ascertain the nature of the conspiracy or the identities of the two others allegedly involved in it were unsuccessful — but more details about the case are expected to emerge in the coming days.

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section has been investigating the matter, and on Monday federal prosecutors quietly filed a "criminal information" against the former official — a statement of formal charges that bypasses a grand jury and often indicates the defendant has decided to cooperate with investigators.

The criminal information charges George Higginbotham with one felony count of "conspiracy to make false statements" to a bank. Reached by phone Tuesday, a lawyer for Higginbotham declined to comment.

Prosecutors allege that over several months last year, Higginbotham and two unidentified co-conspirators plotted to "knowingly" mislead a specific financial institution about "tens of millions of dollars in funds that originated with foreign accounts."

While a person identified in court documents only as "Co-conspirator B" held that money overseas, another person identified as "Co-conspirator A" opened accounts inside the United States, according to prosecutors.

Then on Nov. 6, 2017 — "at the request of Co-conspirator A" – Higginbotham, while still working at the Justice Department, "transmitted an email to [the targeted financial institution] that falsely represented the source and purpose" of the tens of millions of dollars from overseas, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Higginbotham lied in the email "for the purpose of influencing [the bank's] due diligence in connection with applications for recently opened accounts."

Higginbotham's LinkedIn page says he began working as a "Senior Congressional Liaison/Oversight Counsel" in July 2016, and he left the Justice Department just three months ago. A Justice Department website indicates he worked for the department's Office of Justice Programs, which provides grants and training to law enforcement across the country.

Before joining the Justice Department, Higginbotham worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to his LinkedIn page.

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