Market Date: 6 August, 2020

FBI investigating possible public corruption in Sacramento’s cannabis sector

The FBI is investigating whether public officials at Sacramento, California accepted bribes in return for favorable treatment for applicants for permits to run cannabis companies in town, according to a report from local media. Three sources with direct knowledge of the research have informed the Sacramento Bee that the FBI has questioned several neighborhood cannabis companies over the previous 3 months concerning the potential corruption of town officials.

The resources of this info declined to be identified so the identities of the marijuana industry individuals questioned by the FBI could stay confidential. The sources stated those interviewed by representatives were asked when they had knowledge about any bribes paid to public officials in exchange for favorable treatment throughout the cannabis company licensing procedure.

Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI, refused to comment on a potential investigation into public corruption in Sacramento associated with the town’s cannabis market.

“The FBI neither confirms nor denies such an investigation,” Swankie composed in an emailaddress. “Who is making such a claim?”

But only two weeks before, the FBI said in a podcast it had been “seeing a public corruption threat emerge in the expanding cannabis industry” and requested for hints from anybody having knowledge of corruption amongst public officials and marijuana companies.

City Officials Probe Ukrainian Connection to Neighborhood Cannabis Industry

City officials in Sacramento are exploring the way cannabis company owner Garib Karapetyan and his partners have managed to collect eight licenses to function dispensaries in town, or roughly one-third of those allowed retailers. Among Karapetyan’s spouses, Ukrainian businessmen Andrey Kukushkin, was among four men indicted by Federal prosecutors for participation in a strategy to direct overseas funds into campaign contributions and investments in lawful marijuana companies in Nevada and other countries.

Two other men indicted in the case, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, will also be partners of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, and also have been implicated in a documented plot from the former mayor of New York City to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said on Sunday that the mayor needed to understand exactly how Karapetyan and his partners could obtain numerous licenses under city regulations, which have been developed to protect against a concentration of ownership in Sacramento’s cannabis market.

“If this story is true, then our cannabis licensing process, which was designed to protect consumers and reward local law-abiding businesses, is being improperly exploited,” Vellinga said in a statement. “The mayor is calling for an immediate investigation and will lead an effort to add additional safeguards to the licensing process.”

Dale Gieringer, the manager of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), stated that under state legislation, local authorities have too much authority over the licensing of cannabis companies.

“Corruption is always worse at the local level because there are so many more local officials and they aren’t under as much scrutiny as those in Sacramento,” Gieringer said. Sacramento is also the state capital of California.

State agencies, he added, “have been doing their best to expedite licensing, but too many local players have been getting their hands in the pie.”