City Hall Aide Is Cooperating With Corruption Investigation Into Adams

City Hall Aide Is Cooperating With Corruption Investigation Into Adams

An aide to Mayor Eric Adams who served as his longtime liaison to the Turkish neighborhood has turned in opposition to him and is cooperating with the corruption investigation into Mr. Adams and his 2021 marketing campaign, in accordance with three folks with data of the matter.

The cooperation of the aide, Rana Abbasova, may signify a major improvement within the broad corruption inquiry, which has targeted partially on whether or not Mr. Adams’s marketing campaign conspired with the Turkish authorities to funnel unlawful international donations into marketing campaign coffers — and whether or not Mr. Adams pressured Fire Department officers to log out on a brand new high-rise Turkish consulate regardless of security issues.

It was unclear what data Ms. Abbasova, the director of protocol for the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, supplied to the federal authorities. But she has been concerned in or has had data of a few of Mr. Adams’s dealings with Turkish authorities officers and businessmen, in accordance with emails. She additionally helped coordinate occasions and conferences with members of the Turkish neighborhood in New York and overseas and organized a few of his journey, accompanying him on two official journeys to Turkey, data present.

Originally from Azerbaijan, Ms. Abbasova, 41, had labored for Mr. Adams for about 4 years within the Brooklyn borough president’s workplace earlier than he turned mayor. She started speaking with the group of F.B.I. brokers and federal prosecutors conducting the corruption investigation within the weeks after the F.B.I. searched her residence on Nov. 2. On the identical day, brokers additionally searched the properties of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser and a former Turkish Airlines government.

Like the mayor and others underneath scrutiny within the investigation, Ms. Abbasova has not been formally accused of wrongdoing. It is unclear whether or not she has signed a proper cooperation cope with federal prosecutors in trade for leniency or whether or not she’s going to plead responsible to any crimes in reference to the alleged international donation scheme. But she has been offering federal authorities with details about the issues they’re investigating.

Her lawyer, Rachel Maimin, declined to touch upon Monday, as did spokesmen for the U.S. legal professional’s workplace and the F.B.I.

One of the legal professionals representing Mr. Adams, Brendan R. McGuire, mentioned in a press release that Ms. Abbasova’s cooperation was “not a brand new or significant improvement.” He famous that officers within the Adams administration had earlier shared data with federal prosecutors about what they described as improper actions taken by Ms. Abbasova after the search of her residence.

“It is our understanding that Ms. Abbasova has been speaking to investigators since her improper conduct was reported by the administration in November,” the assertion mentioned.

People with data of the matter have mentioned that her actions had in a roundabout way concerned speaking to a different aide about communications.

Since the investigation turned public, Mr. Adams has denied wrongdoing and mentioned he all the time tells his employees to observe the regulation.

Four days after looking the properties of Ms. Abbasova and the others, F.B.I. brokers approached Mr. Adams on the road after an occasion at New York University in Greenwich Village. They requested his safety element to step apart, climbed into his automobile with him, handed him a court-authorized warrant and seized his digital gadgets. Federal brokers and prosecutors have made few public strikes since then.

The warrant for the search of the Brooklyn residence of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs, detailed not less than a few of the doable crimes that F.B.I. brokers and prosecutors from the U.S. legal professional’s workplace for the Southern District of New York had been inspecting as a part of the corruption inquiry.

It mentioned they had been looking for proof to help potential costs that included wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, theft of federal funds and conspiracy to steal federal funds, in addition to marketing campaign contributions by international nationals and conspiracy to make such contributions.

Federal authorities even have been growing proof to counsel that the Turkish Airlines government, in coordination with Ms. Abbasova, helped prepare upgrades for Mr. Adams on Turkish Airlines, an organization that Mr. Adams has extolled — even telling a pro-government Turkish publication in 2017 that the airline “is my approach of flying.”

Ms. Abbasova, who had served Mr. Adams as a volunteer within the borough president’s workplace earlier than she was employed full time in 2018, was suspended from her place because the director of protocol within the days after the search of her New Jersey residence, however earlier than that search had grow to be public.

The mayor’s group instructed The New York Post that it had proactively put her on go away after discovering the improper actions cited by Mr. McGuire.

It was not publicly recognized on the time that on the identical morning the F.B.I. searched the house of Ms. Suggs, brokers additionally had descended on the New Jersey properties of Ms. Abbasova and Cenk Öcal, the previous Turkish Airlines government who served on the mayor’s transition group. The New York Times reported on these searches two weeks later. Mr. Öcal has repeatedly declined to remark.

After the search of Ms. Suggs’s residence, brokers walked out with digital gadgets and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams.”

That day, Mr. Adams had been planning to fulfill with federal officers in Washington in regards to the migrant disaster, which he had characterised as a problem of existential concern to New York City. But when he discovered of the raid, he canceled his public schedule and returned residence. His workplace mentioned on the time solely that he wished to “cope with a matter.”

When The Times reported on the raid of Ms. Abbasova’s residence, Mr. Adams’s spokesman urged she was a “junior staffer.” But she and Mr. Adams had a longstanding skilled relationship.

Ms. Abbasova was educated in drugs and dentistry in Azerbaijan and Turkey earlier than transferring to the United States, the place she continued her medical schooling and went into authorities service, in accordance with an utility she made to serve on a board of a constitution faculty.

“Rana Abbasova is a proud Azerbaijani American who builds relations with many ethnic, immigrant communities,” the appliance mentioned.

During Mr. Adams’s first time period as borough president, Ms. Abbasova helped him make connections with Brooklyn’s small Turkish and Azerbaijani communities. She was given an workplace at Borough Hall.

In 2015, she traveled to Turkey with Mr. Adams on a visit paid for by the Turkish consulate and the World Tourism Forum Institute, a corporation that claims it goals to increase international tourism.

In 2018, Ms. Abbasova joined Mr. Adams’s paid employees as a “neighborhood coordinator,” incomes $50,000 a 12 months, in accordance with metropolis data. By 2021, her title had grow to be “assistant to the compliance unit,” in accordance with a listing supplied to Mr. Adams’s successor in Brooklyn, Antonio Reynoso.

In that function, “she was answerable for worldwide relations and sustaining relationships between the borough president and stakeholders, together with the Middle East and Central Asian international locations, Muslim and Russian-speaking communities, and nonprofit organizations,” in accordance with her City Hall biography.

When Mr. Adams turned mayor in 2022, Ms. Abbasova moved to City Hall, working as his “director of protocol for worldwide affairs,” a place by which she “advises and assists the mayor” and others “on diplomatic protocol and etiquette issues,” in accordance with the biography. She was incomes about $80,000 a 12 months when she was placed on go away.

The Turkish neighborhood in Brooklyn shouldn’t be a large one, in accordance with Social Explorer, a demographic information agency. As of 2022, there have been 4,625 Turkish-born Brooklynites, making them the borough’s thirty eighth largest group of foreign-born New Yorkers.

The function that Ms. Abbasova crammed in Brooklyn now not exists, a spokeswoman for Mr. Reynoso instructed The Times final 12 months.

Ms. Abbasova labored in tandem with Mr. Öcal, the previous manager in New York for Turkish Airlines, whereas within the borough president’s workplace, The Times has beforehand reported. Mr. Öcal had a relationship with Mr. Adams and was certainly one of tons of of individuals on his mayoral transition group.

She helped prepare a dinner Mr. Öcal attended whereas Mr. Adams was borough president with Turkish consular officers and board members of the Turken Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit with shut ties to the federal government of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

She was additionally concerned in arranging Mr. Adams’s look at a 2019 gala held by Turkish Airlines on the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, the place he made a quick speech.

Ms. Abbasova was additionally proposed as a board member in 2015 for the would-be constitution faculty, Mentora International, which utilized to function in New York and was backed by Enver Yücel, a Turkish entrepreneur and philanthropist who has met with Mr. Adams in Turkey and in Brooklyn. New York State denied Mentora’s utility, and the constitution faculty didn’t open.

Federal investigators sought data associated to marketing campaign contributions from folks related to Bay Atlantic University, a nonprofit faculty and graduate faculty in Washington, D.C., based by Mr. Yücel, within the search warrant they obtained to go looking the house of Ms. Suggs.

Mr. Adams’s mayoral marketing campaign obtained a complete of $10,000 in contributions from 5 workers of Bay Atlantic University on Sept. 27, 2021, every week after the disclosing of the brand new Turkish consulate constructing in Manhattan, and refunded the donations the next month. After Mr. Adams received the mayoral election that November, Mr. Yücel posted an image of them collectively on Instagram.

“I’d cordially prefer to congratulate my pricey good friend Eric Adams for his new function as the brand new mayor of New York City,” the caption mentioned.

Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Nicole Hong contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed analysis.


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