NEW YORK – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a major donor to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee with obstructing a federal investigation into whether foreign nationals unlawfully contributed to the inaugural celebrations.
The donor, Imaad Zuberi, recently pleaded guilty in a separate case in Los Angeles to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and failing to register as a foreign agent.
A criminal information filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court accuses Zuberi, a globe-trotting venture capitalist, of taking “numerous steps” to interfere with the investigation into where the inaugural committee received its funding. Prosecutors say Zuberi backdated a $50,000 check and also deleted emails.
Zuberi’s defense attorney declined comment.
Zuberi, a prolific fundraiser who has also donated large sums to Democrats, gave $900,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee in the months after the president’s 2016 election.
The criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan said that donation “was in fact funded using money obtained from other sources.” It didn’t name the true source of the money.
The inaugural committee has not been accused of wrongdoing, and prosecutors say Zuberi did not inform the committee that his donation included contributions from others. Under federal law, foreign companies and individuals cannot make contributions to U.S. political campaigns.
Zuberi has been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in both California and New York over millions of dollars in political contributions, including large donations to the inaugural committees of both President Barack Obama and Trump.
In the Los Angeles case, Zuberi was accused of soliciting donations from foreign nationals and companies and then acting as a straw donor to make donations to several U.S. political campaigns. The charges in that case are centered on contributions he made during the Obama administration.
Prosecutors have said Zuberi told foreign nationals and representatives of foreign governments he could use his influence to change foreign policy and create business opportunities for clients and himself.