Ethics panel clears Rep. Meeks in loan issue

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens-Nassau) failed to disclose a $40,000 loan from a real estate broker on his financial disclosure reports, but there's no credible evidence that the errors were knowing or willful, the House Ethics Committee concluded Thursday.

The committee declined to punish the eight-term congressman, noting that he corrected the errors and omissions in 2010, reporting the liability that should have been on his annual reports from 2007 through 2009.

The decision not to discipline Meeks was similar to findings in other cases in which a House member corrected errors and omissions that were found not to be in bad faith.

"I am pleased with the Ethics Committee's decision, and I am glad that this matter is now closed," Meeks said.

The committee said the evidence did not establish that the loan from Queens real estate broker Edul Ahmad was an impermissible gift.

Meeks has contended the loan terms were in writing, but said he had misplaced the loan document.

Meeks repaid the loan in June 2010, following news reports on the controversy.

He stated the interest rate was 12.5 percent, the committee said.

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The committee said Ahmad's lawyer contended there was no loan document signed by Meeks and no fixed interest rate. The panel added that investigators were unable to confirm this allegation because they were unable to interview Ahmad -- who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in an unrelated federal case.

The committee said that unless Ahmad provided documentary evidence indicating the payment to Meeks was not a loan, "it would be unreasonable for the committee to conclude . . . that Representative Meeks had been untruthful."

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