A top political donor and Los Angeles businessman was sentenced to 12 years in prison for making illegal campaign contributions to Joe Biden, Obama, Hillary Clinton and other politicians.
A trove of unsealed court documents included photographs of Zuberi rubbing elbows with then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Zuberi reportedly made six-figure donations to the Obama-Biden campaign in 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
According to AP, a spokesperson for Biden said he had no knowledge of Zuberi’s illegal activities when they met, mostly at donor roundtables.
Imaad Zuberi, a Pakistani-American, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lobbying US officials while working as a foreign agent.
An investigation by the AP revealed that Zuberi sold access to high-profile political figures in exchange for millions in foreign money in a straw donor scheme.
US District Judge Virginia Phillips, a Clinton appointee, ordered Zuberi to pay $16 million in restitution on top of a $2 million fine.
“I’m deeply sorry and, of course, humiliated,” Zuberi told the judge, according to Politico. “I have no excuse for what I’ve done.”
The AP reported that Zuberi has been cooperating with the feds, but some of his cooperation is still under seal.
Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips for a stiff sentence, calling the scope of Zuberi’s scheme unprecedented. The Los Angeles businessman’s crimes included unregistered lobbying for governments with spotty human rights records like Sri Lanka and Turkey as well as a Ukrainian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, prosecutors said.
Phillips noted the sophistication of Zuberi’s straw donor scheme and also spoke of the role such campaign finance investigations play in preserving the integrity of American elections.
Zuberi, 50, maintained his wrongdoing had been limited and asked to be credited for years of cooperation with federal and local law enforcement. His attorneys noted he already has paid more than $10 million in restitution.
Some of Zuberi’s cooperation remains under seal. Phillips, citing national security interests, closed the courtroom for part of Thursday’s proceedings to discuss classified information Zuberi filed in an effort to reduce his sentence. Zuberi’s attorneys asked Phillips to credit him for a list of law enforcement leads and intelligence he provided to the federal government, according to people familiar with the court filings.
Zuberi, 50, is to report to prison on May 25.
If Zuberi is going to prison for selling access to high-profile US politicians, why isn’t Hunter Biden in jail for doing the exact same thing?