Hotelier Sant Chatwal admits to campaign finance fraud

Dream Hotel developer pleads guilty to violating US election law

Hillary Clinton and Sant Singh Chatwal
Hillary Clinton and Sant Singh Chatwal

International hotelier and restaurateur Sant Singh Chatwal pleaded guilty to running a phony political fundraiser that gave money to several lawmakers, including Hillary Clinton.

The 70-year-old Chatwal, best known known in Manhattan for developing the luxe Dream Hotel Downtown and the celebrity hotspot Time Hotel in the Theatre District, admitted in Brooklyn Federal Court to enlisting a ring of fake financiers in order to bypass donation limits, as well as tampering with a witnesses, according to reports.

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Although federal campaign finance law bars donations to political action committees of more than $5,000, Chatwal raised more than $180,000 between 2007 and 2011 by setting up “straw” donors and later reimbursing them, according to the New York Daily News. Federal prosecutors alleged Chatwal used his employees, business associates, and even contractors who worked on his developments in the scheme, the New York Observer reported.

Funds also went to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a Florida congressmen, who claim they were unaware of Chatwal’s criminal activity, the article said.

The hotelier also reportedly tried to bribe an informant to mislead FBI and IRS agents closing in on the investigation. Chatwal could spend up to five years in prison when Federal Judge Leo Glasser sentences him. He also faces hundreds of thousands in fines and a $1 million in restitution, the Daily News said. [NYDN] and [NYO] Angela Hunt

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