Chinese Billionaire Pleads Guilty in Illegal Campaign Donation Scheme

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York has just announced that Hui Qin, a Chinese billionaire and former head of a Hong Kong entertainment company, has admitted to masterminding a scheme violating campaign financing laws to provide political contributions to multiple politicians. Qin was responsible for illegally channeling around $11,600 to New York and Rhode Island political campaigns from December 2021 through December 2022.

Court records show that Qin paid reimbursements to entities who made donations to his behalf to the political action committees run by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, former Rhode Island Mayor Allan Fung, and others. These campaigns were reportedly unaware of what Qin was doing.

Qin’s guilty plea additionally included charges related to immigrant visa fraud for submitting false information in his application for a green card in 2019, as well as obtaining a fraudulent Florida driver’s license while residing in the State of New York. Qin agreed to give up his lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States with the possibility of imprisonment for up to 27 years.

Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace said Qin’s conduct constituted a “brazen web of deceit” intended to deceive elections and immigration officials. “Ensuring election integrity and rooting out campaign contribution fraud are priorities of the Department of Justice,” said Peace in an announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York.

Adams and Garbarino, both recipients of Qin’s funding, have denied any knowledge of the illicit scheme. In response to the investigation, Adams – presently under federal investigation for alleged donation impropriety – doubled down on his claim that Qin was simply one of many he met in his campaign, while Garbarino declared that he had no prior knowledge of Qin’s source of funds and would donate the amount received to a charity in his district. Vito Pitta, Adams’ attorney, reiterated that the campaign had no part in the straw-donor scheme and had not been accused by the federal government of any wrongdoing.

The case against Qin comes amid ongoing investigations into alleged illegal campaign contributions. The FBI is examining Adams’ mayoral campaign for allegedly illegal foreign donations from the Turkish government. Adams denies all wrongdoing, however several of his former aides have been hit with federal raids, including Winnie Greco, the director of Asian affairs during Adams’ administration.

Qin’s legal issues go well beyond campaign finance violations. He was arrested by Nassau Police for allegedly trying to attack his wife, who was scheduled to testify against him in a Manhattan federal civil case filed by a Chinese investment group seeking to enforce a $450 million arbitration award owed by Qin. Reports show that while the arbitration was underway, Qin allegedly transferred his Long Island home to relatives for a nominal fee. Qin’s attorney has declined to comment on the matter.

Former Rhode Island Mayor Allan Fung, another recipient of Qin’s donations, has yet to respond to requests for comment.