Fred Hochberg
Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Reuters

Four officials at the U.S. Export-Import Bank were suspended or removed amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, and even attempts to direct federal contracts to preferred companies, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Johnny Gutierrez, an official in the short-term trade finance division, reportedly received cash payments in return for attempting to help a Florida company obtain U.S. government financing to export construction equipment to Latin America, sources told the Journal.

Out of the four employees, Gutierrez’s duties were closest to the agency's main mission of financing exports.

Though Gutierrez’s lawyer Douglass McNabb confirmed his client was placed on leave after an investigation by the agency’s inspector general, he didn’t provide further comment.

Two of the other workers are reportedly being inspected for inappropriately granting contracts to help run the agency, while the third is being researched for allegedly taking contributions on behalf of a different company wanted financing, sources told the Journal.

The identities of all three people were reportedly revealed, but could not be fully supported, the news site said.

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