Chinese Billionaire Pleads Guilty To Directing Illegal Campaign Donations In New York City

A Chinese entertainment magnate has pleaded guilty to running an illegal donor scheme spanning both New York City and federal elections, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced Monday.

Hui Qin, a billionaire who ran the Hong Kong-based entertainment company SMI Culture, pleaded guilty to operating a straw donor scheme that funneled money to congressional campaigns in New York and Rhode Island as well as a campaign for an undisclosed position in New York City, according to the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York. A straw donor scheme is an illegal arrangement where an individual directs someone else to donate to a given political campaign, and reimburses them for doing so after the fact.

Straw donor schemes can be used to circumvent donation limitations or to allow people who typically wouldn’t be allowed to make contributions to give to political causes.

While the United States Attorney’s Office does not disclose which New York City candidate Qin directed donations to, New York City campaign finance records show that Qin made a $2,000 donation to the campaign of New York Mayor Eric Adams in March 2021.

All told, Qin’s straw donors made $11,600 worth of illegal donations over the course of his scheme, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Adams has been linked to straw donation schemes in the past.

A New York court indicted six people in July 2023 who allegedly sought to make straw donations to influence the mayor. Multiple people who campaign finance records show donated the maximum amount to Adams claim to not remember contributing to his campaign.

Federal authorities are also investigating whether Adams worked with the Turkish government to direct foreign donations to his campaign.

Vito Pitta, an attorney for the mayor, said that “as the federal government made clear today, the campaign had no knowledge of a straw donor scheme—and no member of the campaign has been charged with or accused of any wrongdoing,” according to The Associated Press.

Chinese influence in New York politics isn’t a new phenomenon. New York Democrats have received over $1 million from organizations and individuals with ties to the Chinese Communist Party since 1990. Adams has been on the receiving end of such donations.

Qin, who also pleaded guilty to immigration violations, faces up to 27 years in prison and deportation, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Adams’ attorney did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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