A Los Angeles-based financier who donated $ 900,000 to President Donald Trump's inaugural commission admitted to falsifying records to cover his job as a foreign agent while lobbying prominent U.S. government officials, federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Shah Zuberi, 49, also known as Imad Zuberi, has agreed to plead guilty to three charges of criminal information for allegedly making almost $ 1 million in illegal campaign contributions, various lobbying efforts and tax evasion, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Central District of California.
Prosecutors also claim that Zuberi has raised millions of dollars for campaign and lobbying campaigns for personal use.
"Mr. Zubri's numerous scheme enabled him to arrange his pockets, concealing the fact that he represented foreign clients, gaining access to clients by making long series of illegal contributions, and skipping the money paid by his clients." , said US Attorney Nick Hannah in a press release Tuesday announcing the allegations. "
" Mr. Zuber circumvents laws designed to isolate US policy and our electoral process from foreign interference.
Zuberi's spokesman declined Daily Beast's request for comment.
The venture capitalist name first came to the public arena in February, when federal prosecutors in New York issued a general appeal for Trump's inauguration committee. Zuberi was the only person summoned. Then, in April, Journa of Wall Street announced that Zuberi was involved in a second federal trial in Los Angeles, where prosecutors were investigating his relations with foreign countries.
California prosecutors now claim that under the auspices of his Avenue Ventures firm, Zuber "has requested foreign states and foreign government representatives" with claims that it could change US foreign policy with "its influence in Washington" [1
"As evidence of his access and influence, Zuber distributed to his clients pictures of himself discussing politics with elected officials," court documents say.
According to criminal information, Zuberi claims that he used the money to force several lobbying efforts, including trying to persuade the Bahrain government to lift sanctions on one of its citizens to allow the development of a large resort to continue.
In 2014, Zuberi also contracted with the Sri Lankan government to help "rehabilitate" the country's image in the United States, prosecutors say.
Sri Lanka is said to have agreed to pay Zuberi $ 8.5 million for the project, which includes lobbying efforts, legal fees and a media campaign. Days after the country made an initial payment of $ 3.5 million, the 49-year-old claimed he had transferred nearly half to "his personal brokerage account and used another $ 1.5 million to buy real estate."  Of the $ 6.5 million paid by Sri Lanka as part of a rehabilitation campaign, Zuberi used less than $ 850,000 for the actual project – telling some subcontractors that the country "did not provide sufficient funds to pay invoices ", The court documents state.
In his prosecution agreement with prosecutors, Zuberi admitted that he had filed a false tax return for 2014 that hid the millions he received from Sri Lanka for four years.
Prosecutors note that although "some U.S. officials were willing to take action on issues," Zuber insists, most of his business efforts were unsuccessful and his clients, consultants and other lobbyists "suffered significant losses."
is misrepresenting itself. his influence and the use of his clients' funds, much of which was ultimately used for his "personal gain", according to criminal information.
During his scheme, Zuberi also claims to have made dozens of illegal campaign contributions – and has raised more than $ 1.1 million from two foreign companies that were intended to fund political campaigns. Zuberi admitted that from 2012 to 2016, he "called for or requested over $ 250,000 in illegal campaign contributions," prosecutors said.
"American influence is not for sale," says Paul Delacourt, associate director in charge of the FBI Field Office in Los Angeles. "Mr. Zuberi lured people seeking political influence in violation of US law and enriched himself in the process by deceiving those with whom he interacted."
Zuberi faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison after pleads guilty,
The Daily Beast previously reported that Zuberi had contact with former Trump corrector Michael Cohen in 2016 and 2017. Sources familiar with the matter said Zuberi initially spoke to Cohen about his plans to attend Trump's inauguration in January He became interested in access to high-level events in 2017. Zuberi was told he would have to pay $ 1 million to attend events where he would face senior administration officials, including himself President-elect Trump.
Zuberi spoke with Cohen before and after taking office about potential business opportunities the two could benefit from during the Trump administration, according to two sources with knowledge of the talks. According to these sources, Cohen requested that Zuberi be involved as a lawyer in the Manhattan real estate project. One person said the deal never went on.
Following his donation, Zuberi wins the sponsorship of the Global President's Dinner, an inaugural event where foreigners and representatives can mingle with one another. During that period, he also worked to help host a breakfast at the Trump Hotel in Washington, which included foreign officials from Qatar and Kazakhstan and Trumpworld figures as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and reporter Devin Nunes (R-CA).  Zuberi's name appears on a document showing a potential guest list for breakfast that includes the names of foreign employees. Zuberi was cited as the "source" for these employees on the list. Earlier, Zuberi's lawyer said Zuberi had not invited anyone to breakfast.