Source AP ©

Norman Hsu loses his bank accounts and Manhattan apartment

Norman Hsu's bank accounts are frozen and Manhattan apartment is sealed with the help of investors who say that the jailed political fundraiser stole $40 million (28.3 million EUR) from them.

The Hong Kong-born Hsu, 56, is in jail in California, where he has been wanted since he pleaded no contest to grand theft charges then skipped town before he could be sentenced in 1992. Investigators say they believe Hsu fled to Hong Kong.

After being a fugitive for about 15 years, Hsu made a name for himself as a political fundraiser for Democrats. He was arrested about three weeks ago and now faces new federal charges in New York of bilking investors out of $60 million (42.5 million EUR).

Investigators say he donated some of that money to numerous Democratic candidates and causes, including presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Some candidates, including Clinton, say they have returned the money.

Now investors in both cases are pursuing the same Hsu assets. The problem is, there may not be much left to give out.

According the FBI, there is about $83,000 (58,752 EUR) left in one of Hsu's bank accounts, and when he was arrested, he was carrying about $8,000 (5,663 EUR) in cash.

A New York State Supreme Court justice granted the application of attorney Ronald Minkoff to freeze Hsu's accounts at Bank of America and Metrobank New York and to seal his apartment.

Minkoff's client, Source Financing Investors LLC, says Hsu stole money by claiming he had deals to buy menswear from a manufacturer in China and sell it at a profit to American companies that included Macy's, Nordstrom's, Theory, DKNY, L.L. Bean, and others.

Hsu was not represented at the hearing, but his lawyers have said that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Sentencing him to state prison in the first case could be difficult. Hsu's defense attorney, James Brosnahan, has said he intends to exploit a California law that requires the same judge who takes a defendant's plea to mete out the sentence. The judge who took Hsu's plea has since retired.

Brosnahan has said he will seek to undo the plea.

Federal prosecutors in the new case have said they will seek Hsu's transfer to federal custody. But state officials insisted he will remain in California for a while.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment.

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