The American Federal Court in California has convicted a Pakistani-American political donor for violation of the Foreign Act, awarding him twelve years in prison along with a hefty penalty of $15.705 million in restitution and $1.75 million in criminal fine.
According to The News, 50-year-old Imaad Shah Zuberi of Arcadia was sentenced by US District Judge Virginia A Phillips for forging records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level US 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.
Zuberi was born in Pakistan and migrated to the US with his parents when he was just three-years-old. Eventually, he secured US citizenship.
In 1996, Zuberi served in the US Army for about six months and was honourably discharged after sustaining a knee injury. He received a BSc in 1997 from the University of Southern California and an MBA in 2006 from Stanford University.
The Pakistani-origin man was facing charges of donating $900,000 to the Trump inaugural committee. He was also a top fundraiser for former president Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, Dawn reported.
He donated at least $100,000 for Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and also raised funds for Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in 2014, and then-California attorney general Kamala Harris, now vice president, in 2015.
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.
“The violations were part of a larger surreptitious effort to route foreign money into US elections and to use it to corrupt the US policy-making processes,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
They also pleaded the court to reject Zuberi’s claim that funnelling money to influence US policy-making and elections was the “way America works”.
“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers, adding, “He used foreign money to fund illegal campaign contributions that bought him political influence, and used that influence to lobby US officials for policy changes on behalf of numerous foreign principals.”
“Zuberi flouted federal laws that restrict foreign influences upon our government and prohibit injecting foreign money into our political campaigns. He enriched himself by defrauding his clients and evading the payment of taxes,” said Acting US Attorney Tracy L Wilkison for the Central District of California.
“Today’s sentence, which also accounts for Zuberi’s attempt to obstruct an investigation into his felonious conduct, underscores the importance of our ongoing efforts to maintain transparency in U.S. elections and policy-making processes.”