The finance co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign was indicted today on charges he defrauded banks of $292 million in loan proceeds, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office announced.
Hassan Nemazee, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, is accused of using loan proceeds from one bank to pay off another over an 11-year period, from 1998 to 2009. The banks he allegedly defrauded are Bank of America, Citibank and HSBC Bank USA, the SDNY said.
Nemazee allegedly used the money to make campaign donations to federal, state, and local candidates, to political action committees and charities. He also purchased real estate in Italy and maintained properties in Manhattan and Katonah, N.Y., the DOJ said.
According to the DOJ, Nemazee allegedly forged documents and signatures to obtain loans of $142 million from the Bank of America and about $75 million from Citibank. The forged documents reportedly identified hundreds of millions of dollars worth of collateral, the Department of Justice said. Additionally, Nemazee allegedly used some of his illegally-obtained borrowings from the Bank of America to defraud Citibank.
“For more than ten years, Hassan Nemazee projected the illusion of wealth, stealing more than $290 million so that he could lead a lavish lifestyle and play the part of heavyweight political fundraiser,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Today’s indictment exposes the sheer brazenness of Nemazee’s schemes and marks the end of his decade of deception.”
Nemazee was arrested August 25 and released on bail the following day. The date of his arraignment in a Manhattan federal court has not been set. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John M. Hillebrecht, Daniel W. Levy and Michael D. Lockard are overseeing the prosecution.
President Bill Clinton nominated Nemazee to be ambassador to Argentina in the 1990s, but he wasn’t confirmed by the Senate and didn’t serve. The Iranian-born New York financier helped raise money for Barack Obama after Hillary Clinton withdrew from the Democratic primary race last year.
The Clintons long have been dogged by allegations of improper fundraising. Then-President Bill Clinton was accused of using the White House’s Lincoln bedroom to reward Democratic donors, and his 1996 presidential re-election campaign spawned a raft of scandals and congressional investigations into improper donations and illegal contributions from sources in Asia.
After the 1996 election, Clinton and the Democratic party returned $1.2 million in donations raised by Charlie Trie, who owned a Chinese restaurant in Arkansas before becoming a fundraiser for Clinton. Trie was indicted on campaign finance charges and fled overseas before eventually surrendering to authorities in the U.S.
Then there’s the more recent Norman Hsu scandal involving improper donations to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
Hsu was the apparel executive who went on the lam after the Wall Street Journal in 2007 exposed his apparent use of straw donors to evade campaign giving limits to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Hsu was convicted in May in New York federal court of election law violations, and also pleaded guilty in California to bilking investors of $20 million in his own Ponzi scheme. The Clinton campaign returned $850,000 in donations linked to Hsu.