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Federal prosecution faces allegations of misconduct in high-profile $12M Somali asset case

Saturday February 3, 2024

Jeremy Schulman and others are accused of creating false documents regarding his authority to recover assets on behalf of the Somali government. CREDIT: World Justice News

Washington D.C. (HOL) - In what is shaping up to be a landmark legal showdown, the defence team for Maryland attorney Jeremy Wyeth Schulman is levelling serious accusations against federal prosecutors. Schulman, indicted in a case over the alleged misappropriation of over $12 million in Somali state assets, claims prosecutorial misconduct has tainted the grand jury process. Set against the backdrop of a trial scheduled for March 4, 2024, these allegations spotlight the intricate dance between legal strategy and ethical conduct in the American judicial system.

Schulman's defence, led by prominent legal firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, argues that a recent document release—spanning some 800 pages—uncovers evidence of the prosecution's misleading tactics to secure an indictment. "The government's presentation of evidence before the 2020 grand jury was false, misleading, and rife with misconduct in critical and material respects," Schulman's legal team stated, underscoring the gravity of their accusations.

At the heart of the charges against Schulman are actions taken in 2009, where he allegedly fabricated and manipulated the credentials of his client, a former head of the Somali central bank, to unlock millions of dollars frozen amid Somalia's 1991 civil war. Despite facing serious charges, including wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy, Schulman maintains his innocence, asserting that the Somali government fully endorsed his legal interventions.

This case traces its origins to the early 1990s, a period of significant upheaval in Somalia. It was then that financial assets were frozen in a bid to safeguard them amidst the chaos. Schulman's involvement began years later, in 2009, when he was approached by Ali Abdi Amalow, the Somali central bank governor during the civil war, seeking legal assistance to unfreeze these assets. According to Schulman's defence, "In the September 2009 meeting, he 'received assurances that the Somali government endorsed these efforts and encouraged Mr. Schulman to continue pursuing this important work,'" highlighting the legitimacy of his actions.

However, the narrative constructed by the prosecution suggests a starkly different scenario—one where Schulman's actions are depicted as fraudulent and deceptive, aimed at personal gain rather than the recovery of Somali assets. This portrayal is contested by Schulman's legal team, which points to a series of prosecutorial missteps, including the alleged violation of a proffer agreement and the presentation of biased evidence to the grand jury.

The case's complexity is further compounded by concerns raised by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis over the prosecution's handling of critical witnesses, notably Amalow. Judge Xinis has remarked on the disturbing nature of the government's approach, stating, "The court agrees that the government's approach to Amalow is disturbing... the government essentially released him on the thinnest of excuses."

As Schulman's March trial date approaches, the defence is pushing for an evidentiary hearing to scrutinize the prosecutorial conduct they claim has prejudiced their client's right to a fair trial. Last month, a federal court upheld a district court's summary judgment that Schulman is not entitled to defence costs under his law firm's insurance policy. 


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