Sri Lanka is reported to have wired a total of US$ 6.5 million in 2014 to a venture capitalist and political fundraiser who was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in the US on charges of embezzlement.
According to the US Department of Justice, the Government of Sri Lanka had hired Imaad Shah Zuberi, 50, of Arcadia, California in 2014 to rehabilitate the country’s image in the United States, which had suffered because of allegations that its minority Tamil population had been persecuted.
Zuberi had promised to make substantial expenditures on lobbying efforts, legal expenses, and media buys, which prompted Sri Lanka to agree to pay Zuberi a total of US$ 8.5 million over the course of six months in 2014.
The US Justice Department said days after Sri Lanka made an initial payment of US$ 3.5 million, Zuberi transferred US$ 1.6 million into his personal brokerage accounts and used another US$ 1.5 million to purchase real estate.
In total, Sri Lanka had wired US$ 6.5 million pursuant to the contract, and Zuberi used more than US$ 5.65 million of that money to the benefit of himself and his wife.
The US Justice Department reported that Zuberi had paid less than US$ 850,000 to lobbyists, public relations firms and law firms, and refused to pay certain subcontractors based on false claims that Sri Lanka had not provided sufficient funds to pay invoices.
Zuberi had further failed to report on his 2014 tax return of millions of dollars in income he received from the Sri Lankan Government.
While his 2014 federal income tax return claimed income of US$ 558,233, Zuberi had failed to report more than US$ 5.65 million he received in relation to the Sri Lanka lobbying effort.
Zuberi was sentenced for falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. Government officials, evading the payment of millions of dollars in taxes, making illegal campaign contributions, and obstructing a federal investigation into the source of donations to a presidential inauguration committee. (NewsWire)