• Ex-Im Financed Firm That Sold Fake Halal Meat

    An Iowa company received nearly $1 million in Export-Import Bank financing to export beef slaughtered by Islamic standards, but instead sold regular beef that had been intentionally mislabeled.

    Bill Aossey Jr., founder of Cedar Rapids-based Midamar Corp. and a leader in the local Muslim community, was found guilty last week of 15 charges, including making false statements on export certificates, The Associated Press reports.

    U.S. District Judge Linda Reade determined that from 2007 to 2010, Aossey had instructed employees to re-label meat products to show that they came from a certified “halal” slaughterhouse in order to export them to Malaysia and Indonesia, which restrict beef imports to those slaughtered according to the Islamic tradition.

    In 2010, toward the end of the period in question, Midamar received $787,500 in financing from Ex-Im. (RELATED: More Export-Import Bank Corruption: Time to Let it Expire)

    An Ex-Im spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation the bank provided a guarantee of a working-capital loan to Midamar “for the export of food products (prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary rules).”

    The spokesperson also noted that, “The company’s loan matured and was closed out in 2011, and the company paid Ex-Im Bank the requisite fee for the guarantee,” and that Midamar has no other outstanding deals with the bank.

    Ex-Im, a New Deal-era government agency that provides financing assistance to American exporters, lost its authority to extend new financing last month after Congress neglected to renew its charter.

    Supporters are hoping to revive the bank by attaching authorization to “must-pass” legislation such as a long-term highway bill. (RELATED: Ex-Im Expiration Could be Temporary)

    Aossey admitted in court to ordering the re-labeling, but maintained that it was a “minor administrative infraction,” because the meat in question had been slaughtered by halal standards, just not at a slaughterhouse with official halal certification.

    A USDA inspector, however, testified that violations could have been very serious, indeed, saying the mislabeling could have resulted in other countries blocking all beef imports from the U.S.

    Meanwhile, prosecutors are also looking to connect Aossey to a gun-smuggling operation involving Midamar that was discovered several months ago, according to The (Iowa City) Gazette. (RELATED: Export-Import Bank Accused of Conflicts of Interest)

    In that case, a former Midamar employee and longtime friend of Aossey is charged with hiding weapons in a container full of clothing for Lebanese refugees. Aossey denies any involvement, but police say they have surveillance footage showing him inspecting the packed container before it was shipped.

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