Trump inauguration donor faces new charge for obstructing justice

By Nathan Layne

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - A Los Angeles businessman who pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations and other charges was hit with a new charge on Tuesday for allegedly obstructing a probe into his donation to President Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration.

Imaad Zuberi, a big donor to both Democratic and Republican politicians, had been under investigation for allegedly concealing the real source of a $900,000 (£685,505.37) donation to the inauguration in violation of the law.

Zuberi "took numerous steps, including reimbursing one source of those funds via a back-dated check, to obstruct the federal criminal investigation," according to a court document disclosed by federal prosecutors in New York on Tuesday.

The funds came from a U.S. citizen and a foreign national who transferred $5.8 million to a bank account used by Zuberi around the time the $900,000 donation was made, according to the document.

A lawyer for Zuberi, Thomas O'Brien, declined to comment.

While Trump's inaugural committee has not been accused of any wrongdoing, prosecutors have been looking at whether foreigners gave money through intermediaries in order to circumvent laws banning foreign contributions.

The charge in New York comes on top of Zuberi's guilty plea in November in a federal court in Los Angeles, where he admitted to falsifying records to hide his work as a foreign agent, tax evasion and to making illegal campaign contributions with funds sourced to foreign entities and individuals.

At the time, the venture capitalist's lawyers had flagged in court papers the possibility that federal prosecutors in New York could bring new charges not covered by his plea agreement in California, including an obstruction of justice charge they said the Los Angeles prosecutors had already promised they would not pursue.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)