According to the Department of Justice, a pair of Chinese-American businesspeople have been charged with funneling illegal donations and promising their donors entry to an exclusive dinner with then-President Trump.
In what has been called “a complex financial scheme with political tentacles” by prosecutors, Sherry Xue Li and Lianbo “Mike” Wang raised nearly $30 million for a development plan that never even got off the ground and then siphoned off millions of dollars for personal expenses and promises of political influence to their investors.
The DOJ further described how the two businesspeople donated illegal campaign donations to Trump:
In furtherance of their scheme, Li and Wang also acted as “straw donors” for foreign nationals to unlawfully contribute to campaigns supporting U.S. politicians and political committees. Among other things, Li and Wang promised foreign nationals access to U.S. political events and politicians in exchange for a fee. Li and Wang used the money they received from foreign nationals to fund political contributions, and falsely identified themselves and other U.S. citizens as the contributors of the funds, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations. In some cases, Li and Wang used TEC investors’ investment funds to make the political contributions which they used to gain access to the political events, where Li and Wang took photographs with elected officials. Li and Wang would then use the photographs as a marketing tool in soliciting investments from foreign nationals in the TEC Project.
As alleged in the complaint, Li and Wang took nearly $100,000 from twelve foreign nationals each, for admission to a June, 2017 fundraising event with Trump. Li and Wang then used money from those donations to unlawfully make their own personal donations totaling $600,000 in political contributions between the two.
One of their press releases read trumpeting their connections to the Trump administration read “Together we can build a better, stronger and healthier community and ‘Make America Great Again!”
Neither Trump, his campaign or the PACs associated with them are expected to be charged in any wrongdoing, according to prosecutors, but Li and Wang are looking at serious federal conspiracy charges.