US Prosecutors Investigating Trump's Pakistani-American Donor

Imaad Zuberi, a Pakistani-American venture capitalist from California who gave $900,000 to President Trump’s inauguration committee in 2016, has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in New York's Southern District.

Imaad Zuberi and President Barack Obama
Zuberi's donation paid for a breakfast event, which featured Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, among its 60 or so guests. It also included representatives from several countries around the world, according to media reports. Prosecutors suspect Zuberi funneled money from foreign donors which is a violation of the US Elections Laws, according to media reports.

Imaad Zuberi is vice chairman of private equity and venture capital firm Avenue Ventures. He has “closed over $15 billion in transactions” at the firm,  according to his Linked-in profile. His firm's clients include start-ups, major corporations and sovereign wealth funds.

Prior to donating to the Trump campaign, Zuberi is known to have also donated to Democratic Party candidates including former President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, Zuberi was a top fundraiser for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to data from Open Secrets.

He was born in 1970 in Albany, New York to a Pakistani father and an Indian mother.  He has an undergraduate  degree in business and finance from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Stanford University which he earned in 2006. He has kept up with the Pakistani community in Los Angeles, his home base, and as early as 2004 was raising money from them for John Kerry’s presidential campaign that year, to which he made his first contribution, a modest $1,000 donation, according to a story in Foreign Policy magazine.

Pakistani-American Billionaire Shahid Khan
Another high-profile Pakistani-American donor to Trump campaign is Jacksonville Jaguars' billionaire owner Shahid Khan who gave $1m in 2016.' Since Trump's election, Khan has criticized the president as one who has "shown leadership as the great divider".  Khan also spoke out Trump's travel ban on citizens of 7 Muslim countries.“You can’t confuse safety with religion or national origin,” Khan said. “That’s the point. But I have enough faith that things are going to eventually turn out well.”

There have been several Pakistani-American donors to US election campaigns in the news in recent years. Among them is Dr. Asad Qamar, a graduate of Lahore's King Edwards Medical College, who received $18.2 million in payments from US Medicare program in 2012, making him the second highest billing doctor in America. Dr. Qamar is a member of APPNA, Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America. He was a candidate for the presidency of APPNA in 2013.

Asad Qamar M.D.
Dr. Qamar, a Pakistani-American cardiologist, and his family have given at least $300,000 to politicians and political causes in the 2012 election cycle and in 2013, according to contribution disclosure records reported by Reuters. Dr. Asish Pal, a Florida-based Indian-American, is the second highest billing cardiologist in America. Dr. Pal was paid $4.5 million by Medicare.

Dr. Qamar has been subjected to lengthy reviews of his billing practices by US Department of Health and Human Services. He has complained to President Obama and other officials that the contractors conducting the reviews for the HHS were slow and unresponsive. Dr. Qamar told New York Times that his payments were high because his practice, which has 150 employees and a caseload of 23,000 patients, routinely handles complicated procedures like opening blocked arteries in the legs of older patients, which normally would be billed by a hospital.

Only Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida Ophthalmologist, billed Medicare for a larger amount than Dr. Qamar did in 2012. Dr. Melgen, too, is a major contributor to Democratic party. Dr. Melgen’s firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen’s. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation after the senator intervened on behalf of Dr. Melgen with federal officials and took flights on his private jet, according to The Times story.

Pakistani-American community is beginning to participate in the American political processes not only as donors but also as voters and candidates for public offices. In 2018 elections, Pakistani-American attorney Javed Ellahie was among 5 American Muslims elected to local office in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's a sign American voters are ready for diverse leadership despite troubling increases in hate crimes nationwide, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations. Across America, there are 55 American Muslim candidates who won election to public offices, 11 of them in California, according to CAIR. Two Muslim American women, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, were elected to the United States Congress in 2018.

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Riaz Haq said…
#Brooklyn unveils #street sign for founder of #Pakistan.The location saw a jubilant scene Friday as community members tossed confetti, waved #American and #Pakistani flags for the unveiling of "Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way." #NewYork #QuaideAzam via @amNewYork

The intersection of Coney Island and Foster avenues in Brooklyn was witness to a jubilant scene Friday, as community members tossed confetti and waved American and Pakistani flags for the unveiling of "Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way."

The co-naming of the intersection after the founder of modern Pakistan was the realization of a longtime goal of the Pakistani American Youth Organization (PAYO), a nonprofit based in Midwood, which hopes an official designation of the neighborhood as "Little Pakistan" will soon follow.

“I think [the co-naming] is a great way to show homage," said Councilman Jumaane Williams, who supported the co-naming and revealed the signage at the ceremony. "You see the impact that 9/11 had for this community, the un-American feeling that was here was palpable. So many organizations opened up to try to bring back that sense of community, so when PAYO reached out to do this renaming it made sense. I was excited to do this.”

The unveiling was followed by steaming trays of samosas and jalebi, a bright orange Pakistani sweet. As attendees ate and celebrated, speakers took to the podium to commemorate the co-naming, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Councilman Mathieu Eugene, and Zubda Malik, the general secretary of PAYO.

“I don’t have words to explain; this is not just a sign," said Waqil Ahmed, president of PAYO, who also called it a symbol of acceptance.

In the 1940s, Jinnah played a prominent role in the partition of Pakistan from India in order to establish an independent Muslim state. He succeeded in his negotiations with Britain and was pronounced the first governor-general of Pakistan in August 1947.

“When the kids see the sign they will be proud to explain he’s the founder of Pakistan," Ahmed said.

The mile-long stretch of Coney Island Avenue between Newkirk Avenue and Avenue H has been a destination for Pakistani immigrants since the ’80s. The area became informally known as “Little Pakistan” among residents as the area filled with Pakistani restaurants and shops while Urdu became the language of the streets.
Riaz Haq said…
Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) Honors #Pakistani #American #Oilman S. Javaid Anwar with Top Hand Award. #Texas via @mwtnews

S. Javaid Anwar received the Top Hand Award from the Permian Basin Petroleum Association Thursday at a dinner at the Petroleum Club.

The award adds to his growing list of accolades, which include the Hope award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Outstanding Philanthropist award from the Permian chapter, Association of Fundraising Professionals. Anwar, president and chief executive officer of Midland Energy and of Petroplex Energy, was appointed to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by Abbott.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani-#American Donor Imaad Zubari Jailed For 12 Years. #California #VentureCapitalist was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of obstructing a federal investigation into a nearly $1 million donation to ex President #Trump's #Campaign

A California venture capitalist was sentenced on Thursday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that included obstructing a federal investigation into a nearly $1 million donation to former President Donald J. Trump’s inaugural committee.

The businessman, Imaad Zuberi, was sentenced by a federal judge in California and ordered to pay $1.75 million in criminal fines and $15.7 million in restitution.

Mr. Zuberi, 50, had pleaded guilty to the obstruction of justice charge last year. It stemmed from a federal investigation into the source of $900,000 he had donated through his company, Avenue Ventures, to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016.

A lawyer for Mr. Zuberi declined to comment on Friday. He has acknowledged that his political donations were intended to gain access to politicians, public officials and business executives.

“To open doors, I have to donate,” he told The New York Times in 2019. “It’s just a fact of life.”

Mr. Zuberi had donated heavily to Democrats, including committees supporting President Barack Obama and then Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, before abruptly pivoting to Republicans after Mr. Trump’s victory. In Washington political circles, he was notable less for the scale of his giving than for its transactional nature.

Mr. Zuberi said in 2019 that his donation to Mr. Trump’s inaugural fund was at least partly intended to give him access to inaugural events where he hoped to talk business with Trump-backing investors and executives. But he said his attendance at the inaugural events did not yield any business — and backfired after his company’s donation was cited in a subpoena.

Mr. Zuberi was also sentenced on Thursday on a range of other charges to which he had pleaded guilty in 2019, and for which he could have faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

Some of those charges relate to nearly $1 million in illegal campaign donations made from April 2012 through October 2016 as part of a scheme to gain access to American politicians for foreign clients. Some of those donations were funded by foreign sources.

Others related to his lobbying work in Washington for the government of Sri Lanka, whose image he was trying to repair in Washington amid concerns about the country’s treatment of Tamil minority groups.

Mr. Zuberi falsified records filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act to conceal his lobbying for Sri Lanka, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday. That act, known as FARA, requires Americans to disclose detailed information about any lobbying or public relations work they do on behalf of foreign governments and political entities.

In addition, Mr. Zuberi failed to report and pay taxes on $5.65 million that he was paid for the Sri Lankan lobbying campaign, and diverted most of the money “to the benefit of himself and his wife,” the Justice Department’s statement said.

“This sentence should deter others who would seek to corrupt our political processes and compromise our institutions in exchange for foreign cash,” John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in the statement.

Riaz Haq said…
Imaad Zuberi, an American businessman who hobnobbed with world leaders and the international business elite, was sentenced in February to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, foreign-influence peddling and campaign-finance violations.

A key aspect of the case, however, has played out in secret court filings and hearings: Mr. Zuberi was a longtime U.S. intelligence source for the U.S. government, according to legal documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the businessman’s defense.

Mr. Zuberi, 50 years old, lived a jet-setting lifestyle and was a major political fundraiser at the highest levels of American politics, giving generously to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as well as many important members of Congress of both parties, according to campaign-finance records.

That life came to an end in October 2019, when he was criminally charged by the Justice Department and soon after pleaded guilty to tax evasion, foreign-lobbying violations, campaign-finance charges and obstruction of justice. His lawyers are preparing to challenge the sentence in an appeal that they say might raise questions over how heavily a defendant’s cooperation with intelligence agencies should be weighed against criminal charges.

“As evidenced by the public docket, national-security issues may have been part of this case and those same issues may ultimately arise as part of the appeal,” said David Warrington, a lawyer representing Mr. Zuberi.

Riaz Haq said…
Texas oil mogul Syed Javaid Anwar has emerged as a top oil and gas donor to candidates and parties during this midterm election season.

Anwar, founder of Midland Energy Inc., has given more than $1.7 million to Texas Republicans, particularly Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to easily win re-election next Tuesday. That’s nearly double what Anwar gave last cycle, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics, a Montana-based nonprofit that tracks state-level campaign spending.

"If you are blessed, you share it," Anwar said in a telephone interview.

The number of oil businessmen who became major political donors after making their fortunes during the U.S. shale fracking boom has grown in the past several years. Since 2010, eight of those billionaires contributed more than $40 million to state-level political campaigns (Energywire, Aug. 13).

Oil businessmen tend to invest heavily in state races because that’s where they can have a seat at the table, political experts say. State energy and environmental regulators oversee exploration and development on private parcels, and local and state drilling bans can threaten the industry’s expansion.

But wealthy people can quickly become national players, noted Pete Quist, research director at the institute. "Anwar has jumped into the presidential elections the last couple of cycles, especially by making donations to single-candidate super [political action committees]," he said.

And he boasts a close friendship with former President George W. Bush, who calls him "J Daddy," Anwar said. Bush used to live in Midland, Texas, and the two connected through Don Evans, the Bush campaign chairman in 2000 and Bush’s former secretary of Commerce, who also has deep ties to the Texas energy industry.

"I have so much respect for that family," Anwar said of the Bushes.

In 2016, Anwar gave half a million dollars to a PAC supporting Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. This cycle, he gave $50,000 to Jeb’s son, George P. Bush, a Texas land commissioner seeking re-election.

Anwar says he identifies with traditional conservative political values around self-determination and free markets. So when President Trump secured the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in spring 2016, Anwar went on Pakistani TV to declare his surprise.

Today, he believes Trump has done a "decent job."

"I think he has some good ideas," he said. "I just don’t like his tweeting." He defended Trump’s position to close the U.S. borders to foreign asylum seekers: "Think about it. If everyone could walk in, what a chaos it would be." Himself an immigrant, he said, "I am for legal immigration."

He also expressed doubts about climate change. "I’m not an expert," he said. "We need to conserve our environment, [but] we cannot go back to the Stone Age and ride on horses."

He is not opposed to renewable energy if it can make a profit. "Let it compete on the free market," he said. "Let’s see if they win."

‘We were very lucky’
In the ranks of the Texas Republican Party, Anwar has maintained a low-profile. Several members of the state’s GOP executive committee reached by phone said they had never heard of Anwar. Others said they knew him but declined to talk about him.

Anwar was born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised by a single mother who worked as a telephone operator there. His grandparents helped pay for him to go to private high school. There, the rich kids all wanted to go to America. Eventually, Anwar bought a one-way ticket to Wyoming, where he went to college and studied petroleum engineering. Soon, he landed a job in the oil fields in Texas, bouncing between Houston and Amarillo and Pampa.

Riaz Haq said…
Anwar was born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised by a single mother who worked as a telephone operator there. His grandparents helped pay for him to go to private high school. There, the rich kids all wanted to go to America. Eventually, Anwar bought a one-way ticket to Wyoming, where he went to college and studied petroleum engineering. Soon, he landed a job in the oil fields in Texas, bouncing between Houston and Amarillo and Pampa.

He quit his stable job to start his own oil drilling business in 1984, and his company has grown from just three employees to 28. He and his wife, Vicky Anwar, had two children who would grow up to work at the family business.

In the 1980s and ’90s, he accumulated several oil leases in the Permian Basin in West Texas. Oil prices were at rock bottom, and oil giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Texaco Inc. were selling off assets during a period of mergers and consolidation.

But he had happened to cross paths with Ali Al-Naimi, the Saudi Arabian oil minister, who told him: "Mark my word. It will be over $20 in the early 2000s."

Anwar took that to heart and started purchasing assets in the Permian ahead of other companies. "We are very lucky," he said. "The basin is booming. It has had a tremendous effect on our bottom line."

Anwar said he wasn’t interested in politics before the prices increased and the latest boom-bust-boom cycle took hold a decade ago. He had no money. He’s not a registered Republican, but he has always supported capitalism and rejected what he calls socialism. "I have seen where there are people who depend on socialism," he said.

Over the years, he has also given large sums to public universities and charities. The morning Hurricane Harvey hit, he wrote a $50,000 check to the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. He has donated to a host of high-powered conservatives, ranging from members of the Texas Railroad Commission to state district court judges to the governor. His contributions ranged from $1,000 to a quarter of a million dollars this cycle, state records show.

Topping the list of recipients is Abbott, whom he gave more than $1 million in checks and airplane rides. When asked, Anwar said simply that he supports his free-market approach. "[Texas] has grown tremendously," he said. "You just cannot believe how lucky we are to have these Republican governors."

Anwar ranked first on a list of Abbott donors who gave hundreds of thousands to the governor, according to a Texas Tribune report last year. In 2015, Abbott appointed Anwar to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Anwar also donated this cycle to the campaigns of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and state legislators Angela Paxton and Kel Seliger, all Republicans.

On occasion, he has donated to politicians outside of Texas, and on rare occasions, he has donated to Democrats. This year, he gave about $5,000 to U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, according to the National Institute on Money in Politics. He is not opposed to supporting a Democrat "if he has the same philosophy as mine."

As for the 2020 presidential race, Anwar said it is too soon to tell whom he would support. He gave to Trump’s PAC ahead of 2016 but declined to say how much.

In fact, he expressed surprise at the large amount he has doled out this cycle. "I was shocked," he said.

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