Ex-US House speaker paid $4.7 million to hide sexual misconduct: Report

Ex-US House speaker paid $4.7 million to hide sexual misconduct: Report

LOS ANGELES - A former US House Speaker who has been indicted by a federal grand jury allegedly paid off an individual to hide past sexual misconduct, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Dennis Hastert, 73, was indicted on Thursday on charges that he violated banking laws to pay US$3.5 million (S$4.7 million) to an unnamed person to cover up "past misconduct," according to media reports.

The LA Times, citing two unidentified federal law enforcement officials, reported Friday that the alleged misconduct was of a sexual nature and did not relate to his public office.

Thursday's federal indictment described the victim, "Individual A," as a man, the newspaper reported, saying the alleged misconduct dated from Hastert's time as a high school wrestling coach and teacher.

"It goes back a long way, back to then. It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office," an official, who would not speak publicly about the federal charges filed in Chicago, told the Times.

Another federal law enforcement official told the newspaper that investigators had spoken with a second man who made allegations corroborating what the former student said.

The Washington Post said the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service began investigating Hastert in 2013, citing "possible structuring of currency transactions to avoid the reporting requirements." As well as banking charges, he faces a count for making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to federal investigators during an interview last December, the newspaper said.

Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in the history of the US House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, has been a high-paid lobbyist since his retirement from Congress in 2007, according to the Post.

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