Chinese Billionaire Convicted Of Illegal Campaign Donations Gets Time Served, Leaves US

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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A federal court sentenced a Chinese billionaire convicted in an illegal political donation scheme to time served, with the billionaire leaving the country shortly after the fact.

Hui Qin, a Chinese entertainment magnate who ran the Hong Kong-based firm SMI Culture, was sentenced to seven months in prison, equivalent to the time he spent in pre-trial detention, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced on Thursday. Qin had earlier pleaded guilty to running a straw donor scheme that illegally funneled cash into congressional campaigns in New York and Rhode Island as well as an undisclosed municipal election in New York City in 2021.

Qin had initially faced up to 27 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. (RELATED: Chinese Billionaire Pleads Guilty To Directing Illegal Campaign Donations In New York City)

Straw donor operations are illegal arrangements wherein one individual directs another, a straw donor, to make a campaign contribution to a given political committee then reimburses them for doing so after the fact. These schemes can be used to get around donation limits and to allow people who aren’t typically allowed to donate to political committees, like foreign nationals, to spend on elections.

Straw donors funneled roughly $11,600 to political campaigns on Qin’s behalf through his operation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Qin also admitted in his plea to lying, under penalty of perjury, on his legal permanent resident application.

Delegates attend the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 22, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Delegates attend the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)

“Qin interfered with our election system and tried to gain advantage through his straw donations,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said.

As part of Qin’s guilty plea, he agreed to give up his legal permanent resident status and to leave the country after sentencing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  A lawyer for Qin confirmed to the Associated Press that he had boarded a flight to an undisclosed location.

“Qin’s brazen flouting of our political and immigration systems, and his defrauding government agencies resulted in a felony conviction, prison sentence and today, his removal from the United States,” Peace said. “Qin has learned a lesson in American civics the hard way, that no one is above the law.”

Democrats in New York have received over $1 million from people and organizations linked to the Chinese Communist Party since 1990, according to Newsweek.

“Today is a bittersweet day for Mr. Qin,” the Chinese billionaire’s lawyer told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “He is pleased that the judge agreed to sentence him to time-served, but is saddened to leave a country he admires, loves very much, and is the home to his three children,” he continued.

“I believe that today’s result, including Mr. Qin’s self-deportation, is America’s loss because he is a compassionate businessman and philanthropist.”

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