Image: Hassan Nemazee
Joshua Lott  /  Reuters file
Investment banker Hassan Nemazee stands in the dining room of his New York home before a Democratic fundraising dinner on Sept. 22, 2008.
updated 9/22/2009 10:03:50 AM ET 2009-09-22T14:03:50

Federal prosecutors have charged a wealthy fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top Democrats in an alleged $292 million pyramid scheme that spanned more than a decade, saying he used some of the proceeds to support election campaigns.

In an indictment returned Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Iranian-born Hassan Nemazee is charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

"For more than 10 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," 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."

He used some of the proceeds of the fraud to make donations to the election campaigns of federal, state and local candidates as well as to political action committees and charities, prosecutors said. They didn't name the candidates or groups.

Nemazee's lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.

The indictment boosts the allegations against the 59-year-old Manhattan resident, who was arrested in August on charges that he used forged documents to obtain a $74 million loan. Prosecutors now allege that he fraudulently obtained loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars from three banks between 1998 and this year.

They said he used fake documents and signatures to show the banks that he had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of collateral.

Maserati sports car
Prosecutors said Nemazee also used some of the money to buy property in Italy and to make monthly maintenance payments on properties in Manhattan and Katonah, New York.

The government is seeking $292 million in forfeitures against Nemazee, including his interest in five properties, 16 corporate entities and a hedge fund, 14 securities accounts, 32 bank accounts, a 2008 Maserati Quattroporte automobile and a 2007 Cessna aircraft.

Nemazee served as national finance chairman for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and later raised money for President Barack Obama after her primary defeat. He also was Sen. John Kerry's finance chairman in New York for his 2004 bid for president.

Nemazee is under house arrest as part of a $25 million bail agreement. If convicted, he could face 30 years in prison on each of three counts of bank fraud and a mandatory two-year prison term on the aggravated identity theft charge.

More on: Hillary Rodham Clinton

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