NEW YORK (TIP): New York-based Indian American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who has been a prominent fundraiser for the Democratic party and a lobbyist for India on issues such as the Indo-US nuclear deal, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, April 17, to criminal charges of conspiring to violate the US Federal Election Campaign Act and witness tampering, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announced.

Chatwal, 70, a businessman operating several restaurants, hotels and a hotel management company, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (or the Election Act) by making more than $180,000 in federal campaign donations to three candidates through straw donors who were reimbursed and to witness tampering.

“The Election Act’s spending limits are in place to limit financial influence in federal elections and to ensure transparency as to the identity of donors. Chatwal sought to buy access to power through unlimited and illegal campaign contributions, funneling money from the shadows through straw donors. Chatwal’s scheme sought to subvert the very purpose of the Election Act,” Ms. Lynch said in a statement.