A California businessman who lobbied on behalf of foreign governments and made massive campaign donations to many elected politicians, including failed 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Donald Trump, will be spending time in federal prison.
On Thursday, Imaad Zuberi, a venture capitalist and political fundraiser, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay substantial fines and restitution following a prior guilty plea on a host of charges including making illegal campaign contributions and lobbying as an unregistered foreign agent, the Washington Examiner reported.
Millions in fines
Zuberi was sentenced to 144 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips and was ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution and $1.75 million in fines, according to a Justice Department press release.
The sentence followed Zuberi’s guilty plea in November 2019 on charges that included violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, making illegal campaign contributions and tax evasion. He also pleaded guilty in June 2020 to an obstruction of justice charge.
“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said in a statement. “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.”
“He not only concealed his lucrative agreements with those foreign principals, but also made false statements about them in a FARA filing,” Demers added. “After learning he was under investigation, Zuberi doubled down on his criminal conduct, obstructing justice by creating false records, destroying evidence, and attempting to purchase witnesses’ silence.”
Lobbying while ripping off clients
Zuberi acted as an unregistered agent lobbying on behalf of foreign governments such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey, among others, the Examiner reported.
In connection with his lobbying efforts, Zuberi solicited funds from those foreign nations to be contributed to elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, though as was revealed by prosecutors, he often only donated a portion of the funds he solicited while pocketing the majority for his own personal expenditures.
Much of the media has, quite predictably, keyed in on the fact that Zuberi donated nearly $1 million in 2016 to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural campaign — a donation he then attempted to partially backtrack and return to foreign donors once he learned there was a federal investigation. It was this action that earned him the obstruction of justice charge.
“Hard-core” Clinton backer
However, Politico reported that Zuberi’s donation to Trump was a stunning reversal from his prior overwhelming support of Democratic politicians, including being described as a “hard-core Hillary Clinton backer” up until she lost the 2016 election.
Politico also documented repeated efforts by Zuberi to work his way into then-Vice President Joe Biden’s inner circle. A report from the Associated Press in November 2020 documented Zuberi’s efforts to ingratiate himself with Biden and numerous other prominent Democratic officials, as well as a few prominent Republicans.
This man greatly enriched himself through his exploitation of the rules surrounding foreign lobbying and campaign contributions, and will now pay dearly for his greed and blatant lawlessness.