A Pakistani-American venture capitalist has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined USD 1.75 million for falsifying records to hide his work as an unregistered foreign agent while lobbying high-level US officials.
Imaad Shah Zuberi, 50, a California resident, was sentenced by US District Judge Virginia A Phillips, who also ordered him to pay USD 15,705,080 in restitution and a criminal fine of USD 1.75 million, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.
“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise. 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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C Demers.
“He not only concealed his lucrative agreements with those foreign principals but also made false statements about them in a Foreign Agents Registration Act(FARA) filing,” he said.
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, Demers said.
In November 2019, Zuberi pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with violating the FARA by making false statements on a FARA filing, tax evasion, and making illegal campaign contributions. In June 2020, he pleaded guilty in a separate case to one count of obstruction of justice, Pakistani newspaper ”The News” reported on Sunday.
“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.
“As Mr Zuberi’s greed and wealth increased, his elaborate influence-peddling scheme collapsed. By lending a veneer of credibility through name dropping and flashing photos with high-level government officials, Zuberi was able to con foreign donors,” said Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“Now that he’s been sentenced, he will be held accountable by the United States government which he so recklessly misrepresented.” Johnson said.
Zuberi was sentenced for falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level US 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, the DoJ statement said on Thursday.