Donor who gave $900,000 to Trump's inaugural committee to plead guilty to foreign lobbying, other charges

Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A venture capitalist who donated $900,000 to President Donald Trump's inaugural committee is admitting to several charges, including hiding his work as foreign agent while lobbying U.S. government officials and making illegal campaign contributions, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday. 

Imaad Shah Zuberi, who ran a venture capital firm called Avenue Ventures, solicited money from foreign nationals, funneled some of that money to American political campaigns, falsified records in order to conceal his work as a foreign agent from the Justice Department, and failed to report millions of dollars in income he earned from a foreign government, prosecutors say. 

Zuberi, 49, of California, will plead guilty to submitting false statements to the Justice Department about his foreign lobbying efforts, tax evasion and campaign finance violation. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Individuals and companies that work for foreign governments are required to register their activities with the Justice Department. 

Prosecutors say Zuberi solicited money from foreign governments while promising to lobby U.S. government officials on their behalf. His work, which involved making campaign contributions, gave him access to high-level U.S. politicians, some of whom took actions that benefited Zuberi's clients. Prosecutors say Zuberi made dozens of illegal campaign contributions. Some of which he made using the names of other people, some were made by people whom Zuberi later reimbursed, and some were financed by foreign entities, all of which violate Federal Election Commission regulations

From 2011 to 2017, Zuberi contributed more than $3 million to federal and state campaigns from both parties, according to court records. 

Zuberi also accepted money from two foreign companies and promised to use the funds to contribute to political campaigns. Instead, prosecutors say, Zuberi pocketed the vast majority of the funds, about $1.1 million. 

In relation to the foreign agent charge, prosecutors say Zuberi submitted false documents to hide his lobbying efforts for Sri Lanka and the millions of dollars he received from the country. 

In 2014, Zuberi failed to report more than $5.65 million in income he received as part of his lobbying work. Prosecutors say Zuberi's tax evasion, which happened over the course of four years, resulted in at least $3.5 million in tax losses. 

Court documents do not show which candidates received campaign contributions from Zuberi and which of those contributions were made illegally. Prosecutors also did not say where the $900,000 Zuberi donated to Trump's inaugural committee came from. 

But FEC campaign finance filings show that Zuberi has donated to politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump, Clinton, Obama donor charged with campaign finance violation