Trump Inauguration Donor Charged With Obstructing Justice

(CN) – Two months after pleading guilty in California to secretly working as a foreign agent, venture capitalist Imaad Zuberi was charged Tuesday in New York with obstructing an investigation into his nearly $1 million donation to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Federal prosecutors say, around the time of Zuberi’s donation, one unidentified foreign national transferred approximately $5.8 million to his account, and Zuberi deleted emails he sent this individual and others.

Imaad Zuberi, left, leaves the federal courthouse with his attorney Thomas O’Brien, right, in Los Angeles, on Nov. 22, 2019, after pleading guilty to funneling donations from foreigners to U.S. political campaigns. (AP Photo/Brian Melley)

Once prosecutors told Zuberi’s attorneys that they suspected the emails had been deleted, Zuberi called his email service provider and asked how to ensure that copies of those messages were not stored on the server, according to his charging document.

Prosecutors say Zuberi met with another donor to give him a $50,000 refund after a federal investigation into Zuberi’s donation via his company Avenue Ventures LLC became public last February.

Zuberi then allegedly backdated a $50,000 check to that donor, whom Bloomberg identified as the political operative Sam Patten.

A lobbyist and former associate of Paul Manafort, Patten admitted to funneling foreign money into U.S. elections and entered into a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation linked him with Russian oligarch Konstantin Kilimnik.

Federal prosecutors charged Zuberi in a six-page criminal information, a document commonly associated with guilty pleas, rather than filing a criminal complaint.

Zuberi’s attorney Evan Davis, from the firm Hochman Salkin Toscher Perez, declined to comment.

The unsealing of the criminal information delay was long anticipated and delayed.

Back in November, Zuberi’s legal team announced that prosecutors in New York contacted them about the imminent obstruction charge on the same day Zuberi entered in a plea deal admitted to falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent for Turkey and Libyan government officials.

Before donating to Trump’s inauguration, the 49-year-old Zuberi contributed large sums of money to both Republicans and Democrats, including $600,000 to then-candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, as well as to Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

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