(CN) – An investment banker who raised millions for top Democratic candidates was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday for running a Ponzi scheme that netted him $292 million from bogus loans.
Hassan Nemazee pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud for using phony collateral to obtain more than $290 million in loans from major banks. He forged signatures, started “virtual offices” and made fake account statements to hide his fraud. He then used the proceeds from new loans to pay off old ones.
During sentencing, Judge Sidney Stein showed leniency toward Nemazee due to his “positive characteristics, his charitable works, as well as his involvement in American political life.” While sentencing guidelines recommend up to 19.5 years in prison, Nemazee will serve only 12.
Nemazee told Judge Stein that he “traveled down this destructive path” because of “‘pride, ego, arrogance, self-image [and] self-importance.”
Prosecutors indicted Nemazee last year, discovering that his scheme dated back to at least 1998. Among other banks, he defrauded Bank of America of $142 million and CitiBank of almost $75 million.
The Manhattan banker served as Hillary Clinton’s national finance chairman for her 2008 presidential campaign and also helped raise money for Barack Obama and John Kerry.
Judge Stein ordered him to surrender on Aug. 27.