A California federal judge on Thursday sentenced a venture capitalist who donated nearly $ 1 million to former President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to 12 years in prison for falsifying records in order to hide his work from foreign agent while lobbying senior US officials.
Imaad Zuberi was also fined $ 1.75 million and restitution of $ 15.7 million.
Zuberi, 50, agreed to plead guilty in 2019 to tax evasion, file false foreign agent registration records, and provide nearly $ 1 million in illegal campaign contributions to various presidential election campaigns and to other election candidates, according to the US Attorney’s Office for Central. District of California.
He had previously donated to a host of Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2015, Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., in 2014, California attorney general at the then, Kamala Harris in 2015, and former President Barack Obama. presidential re-election campaign in 2011.
“The violations were part of a larger underground effort to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections and use it to corrupt U.S. policy-making processes,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing . They added that “the court should reject Zuberi’s characterization that illegal foreign interference and funneling money to influence American policymaking and elections was the ‘way America works.’
Prosecutors say Zuberi solicited foreign nationals and officials from foreign governments, saying he could use his influence in Washington to change U.S. foreign policy and open up business opportunities for his clients.
Zuberi went to great lengths to carry out his program of hiring lobbyists, retaining public relations professionals and contributing to the campaign and in doing so gained access to senior US officials, prosecutors say federal.
Illegal money was funneled through foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, prosecutors said. Officials have not disclosed the source of the $ 900,000 Zuberi gave to Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016.
Zuberi not only enlisted the help of members of the House of Representatives, but also members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other powerful politicians, prosecutors said.
In one case, using money provided by a person described in the court file as “Person J,” Zuberi paid a former senior US military official more than $ 150,000 to travel to Bahrain twice, to meet Bahraini officials to demonstrate Person J’s influence in the United States, and participate in an April 29, 2013 publicity stunt in which Avenue Ventures reportedly acquired a 35% stake in Al Areen. The stunt consisted of an event in Los Angeles that Person J and a representative from Avenue Ventures allegedly attended.
In addition to the other ploys, prosecutors say Zuberi received a payment of $ 1 million from indicted Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash in March 2015.
Mr. Zuberi flouted federal laws that restrict foreign influence on our government and prohibit the injection of foreign money into our political campaigns. He got rich by swindling his clients and evading paying taxes, said Tracy Wilkinson, acting U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. Today’s sentence, which also explains Mr. Zuberis’ attempt to obstruct an investigation into his criminal conduct, underscores the importance of our continued efforts to maintain transparency in the elections and the drafting processes. policies in the United States.
Zuberi’s lawyers declined to comment on Thursday’s conviction.
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