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Press Release

Billionaire Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Straw Donor Campaign Contribution Scheme and Other Frauds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Hui Qin Made More than $10,000 in Straw Donations to New York City and Congressional Candidates and Fraudulently Obtained a Green Card and a Florida Driver’s License

Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Hui Qin, also known as “Qin Hui,” “Hui Quin,” “Muk Lam Li” and “Karl,” a citizen of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), who was listed on Forbes Magazine’s List of Billionaires and who operated SMI Culture, a Hong Kong-based entertainment entity, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with making political contributions in the names of others, immigration fraud and producing a false identification document.  The proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Steven L. Tiscione.  As part of his plea agreement, Qin agreed to abandon his status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) of the United States and to be removed to a country outside of the United States.  When sentenced, Qin faces up to 27 years’ imprisonment.  Qin has been incarcerated since his arrest on October 2, 2023.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), and Erin Keegan, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the guilty plea.

“Qin pleaded guilty today to engaging in a brazen web of deception, spreading lies to federal election and immigration authorities and a state agency,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Ensuring election integrity and rooting out campaign contribution fraud are priorities of the Department of Justice, including my Office.  No one is above the law, no matter their wealth or station in society, and this Office will vigorously prosecute all criminals who lie to government agencies to further their own ends.”

 “Today, Hui Qin pled guilty to several fraudulent schemes. Qin admitted to making straw donations to multiple elected officials at both federal and local levels.  Qin’s guilty plea underscores the FBI’s commitment to ensuring integrity and transparency in campaign donations and election security. Any individual attempting to illegally influence our election process will be held accountable in the criminal justice system,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.

 “Qin is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, but made straw donations to major political campaigns, hiding the true source of the political contribution from the public,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Fattorusso.  “Not only is this unethical, it’s illegal.  Qin travelled to the United States, obtained a false visa, willfully violated our laws, then sought to conceal his behavior.  IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to using our expertise, working alongside our law enforcement partners, to detect and hold those accountable who believe rules of law simply do not apply to them.”  

 “Hui Qin's guilty plea underscores the federal law enforcement system's painstaking, methodical investigative capabilities when faced with a threat to our safety and democracy. Today and always, HSI New York stands united with our partners against any subjects in their attempts to jeopardize our national security," stated HSI New York Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Keegan.  

As set forth in court filings and facts presented at the plea proceeding, between December 2021 and December 2022, Qin agreed to reimburse other individuals who made contributions on his behalf to the campaign committees for a candidate for a New York City-wide political office, a member of the United States House of Representatives for a congressional district in the Eastern District of New York and candidate for a House of Representatives seat in a Rhode Island congressional district.  During the scheme, without the knowledge of these campaign committees, straw donors made approximately $11,600 in contributions on Qin’s behalf, which caused the campaign committees to unwittingly file false contribution reports with the Federal Election Commission in 2022.

Additionally, as part of his plea Qin admitted that, in April 2019, he filed a false application for LPR status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  In the application, Qin falsely swore, under penalty of perjury, that he had never used another name.  In fact, in 2008, a PRC government official provided Qin with the alias “Muk Lam Li” and between 2008 and the filing of Qin’s LPR application, Qin obtained identification documents, including a Hong Kong identification card, a PRC identification card and a Hong Kong passport in the name of the Li alias, which contained Qin’s photograph, but a date of birth different than Qin’s.  Around September 2017, Qin used the Li alias to transfer more than $5 million from the PRC to a United States bank account, a portion of which was used to purchase a luxury Manhattan apartment where Qin resided.  

Qin also pleaded guilty to engaging in interstate travel to fraudulently obtain a Florida Driver’s License.  In December 2020, Qin travelled from New York to Florida and applied for a Driver’s License at Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“FLHSMV”).  At the time of his travel, Qin was a resident of Old Westbury, Long Island and Manhattan, but he signed an application stating that it was “true and correct” that he resided at an address in Miami, where he had never lived.  To bolster this false assertion, Qin presented FLHSMV officials with fake bank and credit card statements bearing the name “Hui Quin” and the false Miami address.  After FLHSMV issued Qin a Florida Driver’s License, he presented it to banks and a motor vehicle insurer as identification.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Bradley T. King and Adam Toporovsky are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

HUI QIN (also known as “Qin Hui,” “Hui Quin,” “Muk Lam Li” and “Karl”)
Age:  56
Old Westbury, New York and Manhattan, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 24-CR-100 (JMA)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated March 19, 2024

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