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Democratic fund-raiser pleads not guilty to fraud
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A leading Democratic Party fund-raiser pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of defrauding Bank of America, HSBC and Citigroup Inc out of $292 million of loan proceeds.
The fund-raiser, Hassan Nemazee, head of a private equity firm in New York and an Iranian American Political Action Committee board member, donated to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other leading Democrats over the years.
At an appearance in Manhattan federal court, he answered "not guilty" to charges he defrauded the banks by falsifying documents and signatures to show he had hundreds of millions worth of collateral.
His next appearance in court before Judge Sidney Stein was scheduled for November 4.
The office of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and the FBI said he used the proceeds of his scheme to make donations to election campaigns of federal, state and local candidates, to political action committees and to charities.
He bought property in Italy and paid for maintenance on two properties in New York, the indictment said.
As of August 2009 Nemazee owed Bank of America $142 million and owed Citibank $74.9 million, the indictment said. It said Nemazee drew on a line of credit he fraudulently obtained from HSBC to pay the Citibank loan.
If convicted on the three fraud charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Nemazee, 59, typically donates more than $100,000 annually to Democratic political candidates. He is listed as one of the top "bundlers" of contributions to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website run by the Center for Responsive Politics research group.
The case is: U.S. v. Nemazee, 09-mj-1927 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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