Boy howdy, this DOJ announcement is alarming on many levels. Imaad Zuberi, a 49-year-old resident of Arcadia, California, has agreed to plead guilty to a variety of illegal activities surrounding campaign contributions, political influence, and unregistered lobbying on behalf of foreign clients. Mr. Zuberi was under DOJ, FBI and IRS investigation since 2015 (<= important aspect on the alarming part).
(Via DOJ) Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal case charging Imaad Shah Zuberi, a Southern California campaign fundraiser, with falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. government officials. The criminal charges allege that Zuberi engaged in lobbying efforts that earned him millions of dollars, most of which was pilfered from his clients, and Zuberi has agreed to plead guilty to those charges at a later date, pursuant to a plea agreement.
[…] In addition to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Zuberi is charged in a criminal information with tax evasion and making almost $1 million in illegal campaign contributions that included funneling money from foreign entities and individuals to influence U.S. elections.
[…] Zuberi, who operated a venture capital firm called Avenue Ventures, solicited foreign nationals and representatives of foreign governments with claims he could use his influence in Washington, D.C. to change United States foreign policy and create business opportunities for his clients and himself.
According to court documents, clients gave Zuberi money for consulting fees, to make investments, or to fund campaign contributions. As part of his efforts to influence public policy, Zuberi hired lobbyists, retained public relations professionals and made campaign contributions – which gave him access to high-level U.S. officials, some of whom took action in support of his clients. As evidence of his access and influence, Zuberi distributed to his clients photographs of himself discussing policy with elected officials.
While some U.S. officials were willing to take action on issues Zuberi put forward, most of Zuberi’s business efforts were unsuccessful and his clients suffered significant losses. Many of the lobbyists, public relations consultants, and other subcontractors also suffered losses when Zuberi refused to pay them, according to the information. Zuberi, on the other hand, became wealthy, primarily as the result of fraudulent representations about his background, influence, and the use of client funds, much of which constituted an “outright conversion of client money for defendant Zuberi’s own personal benefit,” the information states.
The information details dozens of illegal campaign contributions – including those paid by Zuberi using the names of other people, “conduit contributions” made by others that Zuberi reimbursed, and contributions to U.S. political campaigns that were financed by foreign entities and individuals.
The information further states that Zuberi accepted money from two foreign companies with promises that the funds would be used to contribute to political campaigns, but Zuberi took the vast majority of the money – more than $1.1 million – for his own personal use. (read more)
Here’s an additional alarming part. The DOJ and FBI were investigating Mr. Zuberi since 2014 and 2015, but for some reason the Obama administration never brought charges. One could argue Zuberi was just participating in a financial process that was business as usual for politicians in the swamp.
However, while the lack of charges against Zuberi, perhaps related to the contributions the Obama and Clinton teams were gaining, allowed Zuberi to continue his malicious effort; after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Mr. Zuberi turned his influence efforts toward the incoming Trump administration:
What are the odds the lack of DOJ/FBI prosecution was part of an intentional design to let sketchy characters interact with incoming administration officials?