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LA Businessman Imprisoned In Connection With Massive Political Influence Scheme

March 16th, 2021 12:13

The US Jus­tice Depart­ment has announced that LA busi­ness­man Imaad Zuberi was sen­tenced to 12 years in prison in con­nec­tion with tax eva­sion, cam­paign finance vio­la­tions fail­ing to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent, and obstruct­ing a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the source of dona­tions to a pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion com­mit­tee. Accord­ing to the announce­ment:

A ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist and polit­i­cal fundrais­er was sen­tenced today to 144 months in fed­er­al prison for fal­si­fy­ing records to con­ceal his work as a for­eign agent while lob­by­ing high-lev­el U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials, evad­ing the pay­ment of mil­lions of dol­lars in tax­es, mak­ing ille­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, and obstruct­ing a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the source of dona­tions to a pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion com­mit­tee. Imaad Shah Zuberi, 50, of Arca­dia, Cal­i­for­nia, was sen­tenced by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Vir­ginia A. Phillips, who also ordered him to pay $15,705,080 in resti­tu­tion and a crim­i­nal fine of $1.75 mil­lion. In Novem­ber 2019, Zuberi plead­ed guilty to a three-count infor­ma­tion charg­ing him with vio­lat­ing the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act (FARA) by mak­ing false state­ments on a FARA fil­ing, tax eva­sion, and mak­ing ille­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. In June 2020, Zuberi plead­ed guilty in a sep­a­rate case to one count of obstruc­tion of jus­tice. His sen­tence today per­tains to both cas­es. “Zuberi turned act­ing as an unreg­is­tered for­eign agent into a busi­ness enter­prise,” said Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al for Nation­al Secu­ri­ty John C. Demers. “He used for­eign mon­ey to fund ille­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions that bought him polit­i­cal influ­ence and used that influ­ence to lob­by U.S. offi­cials for pol­i­cy changes on behalf of numer­ous for­eign principals.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to a POLITICO report, Zuberi’s vio­la­tions includ­ed unreg­is­tered lob­by­ing for gov­ern­ments such as Sri Lan­ka and Turkey as well as a Ukrain­ian oli­garch close to Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The POLITICO report goes on to detail Zuberi’s influ­ence network:

These doc­u­ments also demon­strate how Zuberi built a wide­spread net­work of con­tacts, thanks in part to his prodi­gious polit­i­cal giv­ing. That includ­ed six-fig­ure dona­tions to the Oba­ma-Biden tick­et in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2016. No one who accept­ed taint­ed mon­ey from Zuberi has been accused of wrong­do­ing, and Biden, through a spokesman, has said he had no knowl­edge of Zuberi’s ille­gal acts when they met, most­ly at donor round­ta­bles when Biden was vice pres­i­dent. The new records show that Zuberi donat­ed to or hired sev­er­al Wash­ing­ton advo­ca­cy groups, lob­by­ing shops, and pub­lic rela­tions firms. He also had well-con­nect­ed peo­ple on his pay­roll for var­i­ous busi­ness projects, includ­ing for­mer NATO supreme com­man­der Gen. Wes­ley Clark.

POLITICO also notes Zuberi’s ties to Qatar:

Pros­e­cu­tors revealed last year that there is an inves­ti­ga­tion into Zuberi’s ties to Qatar. Zuberi secret­ly lob­bied the Trump White House and Con­gress on behalf of the small gas-rich monar­chy, which has paid him $9.8 mil­lion, pros­e­cu­tors have alleged in court papers.

Final­ly, the Jus­tice Depart announce­ment rais­es ques­tions about Zuberi’s pos­si­ble ties to Iran:

Zuberi also siphoned mon­ey invest­ed in U.S. Cares, a com­pa­ny set up to export human­i­tar­i­an aid to Iran. In 2013 and 2014, investors deposit­ed approx­i­mate­ly $7 mil­lion into U.S. Cares, but Zuberi used more than 90 per­cent of investor funds for his per­son­al ben­e­fit, which includ­ed pur­chas­ing real estate, pay­ing down debt such as mort­gages and cred­it card bills, remod­el­ing prop­er­ties, invest­ing in bro­ker­age accounts, and donat­ing $250,000 to a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished by a for­mer high-rank­ing elect­ed official.

A well-sourced Wikipedia arti­cle pro­vides bio­graph­i­cal detail on Zuberi:

Zuberi was born in Pak­istan and moved to the Unit­ed States with his par­ents at the age of three. He earned a BSc in 1997 from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and an MBA in 2006 from Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. Zuberi is vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic devel­op­ment for Man­hat­tan Street Cap­i­tal and runs its Fun­dA­thena (2015–present). He also serves as vice pres­i­dent of Avenue Ven­tures and pre­vi­ous­ly was vice pres­i­dent of strat­e­gy and market/corporate devel­op­ment at AEGON Group. He was a top fundrais­er for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2012 re-elec­tion cam­paign and in 2015 was list­ed as a “Hill­blaz­er,” as those who raised at least $100,000 for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign were known.  In 2017, Zuberi con­tributed $900,000 to Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial inau­gur­al com­mit­tee. Zuberi has sup­port­ed the Smith­son­ian Nation­al Muse­um of Amer­i­can History,the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and UCLA. He also sup­port­ed Demo­c­rat Ter­ry McAu­li­f­fe’s 2013 Vir­ginia guber­na­to­r­i­al cam­paign and the Orga­niz­ing for Action advo­ca­cy group. He has advised the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment on eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy and the Sri Lan­ka government.