Skip to main content

Manhattan banker sentenced to 12 years for nearly $300 million fraud

By Monika Plocienniczak and Evan Buxbaum, CNN
  • Hassan Nemazee pleaded guilty in March to defrauding three major banks
  • Authorities say he scammed banks out of nearly $300 million
  • A federal judge sentenced him Thursday to 144 months in prison
  • He also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $292 million

New York (CNN) -- Former political fundraiser Hassan Nemazee was sentenced Thursday to 144 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York and to the FBI.

Nemazee, 60, a New York resident pleaded guilty in March to multiple charges stemming from over a decade of defrauding three major banks, scamming them out nearly $300 million.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein, who imposed the sentence, ordered Nemazee to pay restitution of more than $292 million to the defrauded banks and to serve three years of supervised release after his prison time..

Nemazee admitted before Judge Stein that he duped Bank of America, Citibank and HSBC out of $292 million in deceitful loans from 1998 to 2009 "to finance his posh life and create a reputation as a political kingmaker," United States Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Court documents indicated that Nemazee has made "numerous donations to the election campaigns of federal, state and local candidates." He has been a major Democratic fundraiser for more than a decade, according to Federal Election Committee records.

Nemazee is a former finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign and held the same post for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid. On his website, he claimed to have been associated with numerous "business, charitable, international and political organizations," although many of the links validating his affiliations have been disabled.

Nemazee also claimed on his website to have been nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1999 to be the United States ambassador to Argentina.

Along with raising money for his various political affiliations, Nemazee admitted in court to using the fraudulently obtained funds to make numerous donations to various political action committees, as well as to charitable organizations. He also paid expenses associated with properties he owned in Katonah, New York, and made monthly payments on his Park Avenue apartment.

Investigators also found Nemazee purchased part of a yacht and bought property in Rome and Perugia, Italy.

Nemazee was able to procure the loans through a series of maneuvers over the course of a decade. He sold the banks on the falsehood that he owned "hundreds of millions of dollars in collateral, in the form of securities and other assets, which he did not own," the U.S. attorney's office said.