NEW YORK (Reuters) – A major fund-raiser for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats was charged by federal prosecutors in New York in connection with a scheme to defraud Citigroup Inc.
Hassan Nemazee, 59, was accused of one count of bank fraud for allegedly seeking a fraudulent $74 million loan from Citigroup’s banking unit, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday.
Nemazee will be released Wednesday on $25 million bond and be confined to his apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan, with no access to computers. The bond is secured by the apartment and another home in Katonah, New York.
Marc Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor who represents Nemazee, at a hearing called the bail “draconian,” saying “it’s the most onerous bail package I’ve ever been a part of.” His client did not enter a plea.
Nemazee faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine that could reach $1 million or more. He is chairman and chief executive of Nemazee Capital Corp, a private equity firm.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to elaborate on the charges. Another hearing was set for September 24.
Prosecutors said Nemazee tried to get Citigroup’s banking unit to lend up to $74 million based on fraudulent and forged documents suggesting that he had hundreds of millions of dollars of accounts available as collateral.
They said Nemazee provided Citigroup with fake references so that when the bank would try to confirm details about his accounts, it would actually be contacting him.
The scheme lasted from December 2006 to this month, prosecutors said.
Federal agents stopped him on Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Rome, and he repaid a loan of more than $74 million to Citigroup the following day, the government said.
Nemazee was a national finance chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and a supporter of Sen. John Kerry’s run for the White House in 2004.
He typically donates more than $100,000 annually to Democratic political candidates, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer, and sits on the board of the Iranian American Political Action Committee.
Bill Clinton, when he was president, had nominated Nemazee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina. Hillary Clinton is U.S. Secretary of State.
Nemazee is listed as having been among the top “bundlers” of contributions to Obama’s presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website maintained by a nonpartisan research group, the Center for Responsive Politics.
According to Nemazee Capital’s website, the firm was founded in 1987 and specializes in financial services.
It said its acquisitions have included Carret Asset Management, a privately held firm founded by legendary investor Philip Carret, and part of what is now Brean Murray Carret & Co, a small investment bank.
Brean did not immediately return a request for a comment. Citigroup spokeswoman Shannon Bell said the bank is working with authorities on the matter.
The case is: U.S. v. Nemazee, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan), No. 09-mj-1927.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Elinor Comlay and Edith Honan; editing by Steve Orlofsky, Robert MacMillan and Matthew Lewis)