Pakistani American venture capitalist gets 12 years imprisonment

Published February 20, 2021
In this Nov 22, 2019 file photo, Imaad Zuberi, left, leaves a federal courthouse with his attorney Thomas O'Brien, second from left, in Los Angeles, US. — AP
In this Nov 22, 2019 file photo, Imaad Zuberi, left, leaves a federal courthouse with his attorney Thomas O'Brien, second from left, in Los Angeles, US. — AP

WASHINGTON: A US federal judge sentenced an American venture capitalist of Pakistan origin to 12 years in prison for falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level US officials.

Imaad Zuberi, a California resident, was also fined $1.75 million and ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution.

In December 2016, Mr Zuberi had donated $900,000 to the Trump inaugural committee. He was a top fundraiser for president Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 as well.

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.

Mr Zuberi, 50, was born in Pakistan, migrated to the United States with his parents when he was three years old and eventually became an American citizen.

In October 2019, he pleaded guilty to violating lobbying, campaign finance and tax laws through campaign contributions to members of both Republican and Democratic parties.

In 1996, he served in the US Army for about six months and was honourably discharged because of a knee injury.

Mr Zuberi grew up in Albany, New York, but earned a B.Sc in 1997 from the University of Southern California and an MBA in 2006 from Stanford University.

“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 urged the court to reject Mr Zuberi’s claim that funnelling money to influence US policy-making and elections was the “way America works”.

Prosecutors accused Mr Zuberi of soliciting foreign nationals and representatives of foreign governments, offering to use his influence in Washington to alter US foreign policy and to create business opportunities for his clients.

US media outlets claimed that Mr Zuberi “went to great lengths to pull off his scheme, hiring lobbyists, retaining public relations professionals and making campaign contributions” to enhance his influence.

Prosecutors claimed that illegal money was funnelled from foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, but did not reveal the source of those funds.

They accused Mr Zuberi of soliciting members of the House of Representatives, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other powerful politicians as well to secure favours for his clients.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2021

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