The Face of Cronyism: Four Ex-Im Bank officials investigated for improper gifts and kickbacks

House conservatives already want to shutdown the Export-Import Bank because it has become synonymous with cronyism. But a new report from the Wall Street Journal is going to give them even more firepower for their arguments (emphasis added):

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has suspended or removed four officials in recent months amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, as well as attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies, several people familiar with the matter said.

One employee, Johnny Gutierrez, an official in the short-term trade finance division, allegedly accepted cash payments in exchange for trying to help a Florida company obtain U.S. government financing to export construction equipment to Latin America, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Mr. Gutierrez was escorted from the Ex-Im Bank building in April, said two people familiar with the matter.
Of the four employees, Mr. Gutierrez’s responsibilities were most central to the agency’s core mission of financing exports. Two of the others are being investigated over allegations of improperly awarding contracts to help run the agency; the third is being investigated over allegations of accepting gifts on behalf of a company seeking financing, according to people familiar with the matter. The identities of the three couldn’t be fully corroborated.

The Ex-Im Bank hasn’t disclosed information about the investigations, and declined to comment on Mr. Gutierrez’s status, citing privacy laws. Matt Bevens, a spokesman for the agency, said that “the Export-Import Bank takes extremely seriously its commitment to taxpayers and its mission to support U.S. jobs.”

The Wall Street Journal’s report came the same day in which the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered full-throated defenses of the Export-Import Bank.

Oh, and this is hilariously bad timing. Not just because of the support that the White House and crony business community gave it, but because the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow morning on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, authority for which expires in September.

One would imagine that Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will have a thing or two to say about this latest example of cronyism and corruption at the Export-Import Bank.

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