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Hotel magnate, Democratic fundraiser pleads guilty

A hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser has pleaded guilty in New York to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

Hampshire Hotels chairman Sant Singh Chatwal appeared Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn. The candidates were not identified.

Chatwal, whose firm runs hotels around the world, had raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama.

"Mr Chatwal deeply regrets his actions and accepts full responsibility for the consequences. He looks forward to resolving this personal matter," a spokesperson for Chatwal told CNBC on Thursday.

According to the Justice Department, Chatwal made more than $180,000 in donations to three candidates via straw donors, who were then reimbursed.

"There is no allegation that the candidates participated in, or were aware of, Chatwal's scheme," the DOJ said.

In addition to the straw donors, the Justice Dept. said Chatwal tampered with a witness to try and interfere with a grand jury probe.

Sant Chatwal and Bill Clinton in London, September 26, 2006.
Source: Dave M. Benett | Getty Images
Sant Chatwal and Bill Clinton in London, September 26, 2006.

In November 2009, he was among the celebrities, major Democratic fundraisers and businessmen invited to Obama's first state dinner.

He also was a guest at then-President Bill Clinton's state dinner for India in 2000 and helped arrange an earthquake-relief visit by the former president to India in 2001.

Earlier this month Chatwal stepped down as CEO of Hampshire. The company owns and manages hotels in New York, Miami, the United Kingdom, Thailand and India.

Correction:

This story has been updated to reflect the correct courtroom for Chatwal's appearance.

—By The Associated Press. CNBC contributed to this report.

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