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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 5, 2010

MAJOR FOREIGN CROOK PAL OF CLINTONS ALLOWED BACK IN UNITED STATES

Andrew Higgins, Washington Post - In March 2004, James Riady, an Indonesian tycoon and devout Christian, received an honorary doctorate from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. The university -- which has a scholarship program funded by the Indonesian -- didn't announce the honor. Nor did Riady pick up the diploma in person: He'd been barred from America after pleading guilty in 2001 to a "conspiracy to defraud the United States" through illegal contributions to the campaigns of Bill Clinton and other Democrats.

Last year, however, the Indonesian mogul finally made it to Arkansas. He traveled there during the first of two previously unreported trips he made in 2009 to the United States. He was allowed in only after receiving a waiver from a rule that forbids entry to foreigners guilty of "a crime involving moral turpitude," a term that government lawyers generally interpret to include fraud.

Riady's return to the United States poses a prickly question for Hillary Clinton's State Department: How and why did a foreign billionaire stained by Clinton-era scandals get a U.S. visa after being kept out for so long under the Bush administration?

The ethnic Chinese magnate's ties to the Clintons have been a source of heated controversy since the late 1990s, when Riady became embroiled in one of the murkiest episodes of the Clinton presidency -- a campaign fundraising scandal that caused a big political ruckus in Washington amid Republican Party allegations, never proved, of meddling by China's intelligence services in American politics.

The saga brought Riady and his family-run conglomerate, Lippo Group, an $8.6 million fine, the biggest penalty in the history of U.S. campaign finance violations.


THE BACK STORY

1976

Two Indonesian billionaires come to Arkansas. Mochtar Riady and Liem Sioe Liong are close to Suharto. Riady is looking for an American bank to buy. Finds Jackson Stephens with whom he forms Stephens Finance. Stephens will broker the arrival of BCCI to this country and steer BCCI's founder, Hassan Abedi, to Bert Lance. Riady's teen-age son is taken on as an intern by Stephens Inc. He later says he was "sponsored" by Bill Clinton.


1977

Apparently because of pressure from Indonesia, Riady withdraws his bid to buy Lance's 30% share of the National Bank of Georgia. Instead, a BCCI front man buys the shares and Abedi moves to secretly take over Financial General - later First American Bankshares -- later the subject of the only BCCI-connected scandal to be prosecuted in the US.

1983

Mochtar Riady forms Lippo Finance & Investment in Little Rock. A non-citizen, Riady hires Carter's former SBA director, Vernon Weaver, to chair the firm. The launch is accomplished with the aid of a $2 million loan guaranteed by the SBA. Weaver uses Governor Clinton as a character reference to help get the loan guarantee. First loan goes to Little Rock Chinese restaurant owner Charlie Trie.

Jackson Stephens forms United Pacific Trading with Mochtar Riady to do business in the U.S. and Asia.

1984

Stevens and Riady buy a banking firm and change its name to Worthern Bank with Riady's 28-year-old son James as president. Other Worthen co-owners will eventually include BCCI investor Abdullah Taha Bakhish.

1985

Arkansas state pension funds -- deposited in Worthen by Governor Bill Clinton -- suddenly lose 15% of their value because of the failure of high risk, short-term investments and the brokerage firm that bought them. The $52 million loss is covered by a Worthen check written by Jack Stephens in the middle of the night, an insurance policy and the subsequent purchase over the next few months of 40% of the bank by Mochtar Riady. Clinton and Worthen escape a major scandal.

Mochtar and James Riady engineer the takeover of the First National Bank of Mena in a town of 5,000 with few major assets beyond a Contra supply base, drug running and money-laundering operations.
1986

James Riady resigns as president of Worthen Bank.

1990

James Riady takes over operations of a new branch of the Lippo Bank, working with Hong Kong Lippo executive, John Huang. China Resources Company Ltd begins buying stock in the branch, Hong Kong Chinese Bank, at 15% below market value. Intelligence sources later report that the firm is really a front for Chinese military intelligence.

1992

James Riady, his family, and employees give $700,000 to Clinton and the Democratic campaign.

1993

John Huang and James Riady give $100,000 to Clinton's inaugural fund . . . Huang arranges private meeting between Mochtar Riady and Clinton at which Riady presses for renewal of China's 'most favored nation" status and a relaxation of economic sanctions . . . China's 'most favored nation' status is renewed. Price being paid by China Resources Company Ltd. for Lippo's Hong Kong Chinese Bank jumps to 50% above market value. The Riadys make $163 million.

1994

Ron Brown goes to China with an unprecedented $5.5 billion in deals ready to be signed. Included is a $1 billion contact for the Clinton-friendly Arkansas firm, Entergy Corporation, to manage and expand Lippo's power plant in northern China. Entergy will also get contracts to build power plants in Indonesia. James Riady tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "I think the idea of having President Clinton from Arkansas in the White House shouldn't be underestimated."

Webster Hubbell is convicted of tax evasion and mail fraud involving the theft of nearly a half million dollars from his partners at the Rose firm and failing to pay nearly $150,000 in taxes.

After quitting the Justice Department and before going to jail, Hubbell is a busy man. He meets with Hillary Clinton, and follows up by getting together with major scandal figures John Huang, James Riady, and Ng Lapseng. Riady and Huang go to the White House every day from June 21 to June 25, 1994 according to White House records. Hubbell had breakfast and lunch with Riady on June 23. Four days later -- and one week after Hubbell's meeting with Hillary -- the Hong Kong Chinese Bank, jointly owed by Lippo and the Chinese intelligence services, sends $100,000 to Hubbell. Huang, incidentally, formerly worked for the Hong Kong Chinese Bank. Hubbell also receives $400,000 from other sources.


1995

Operating with an interim top secret clearance (but without FBI investigation or foreign security check) new Commerce official Huang requests several top secret files on China just before a meeting with the Chinese ambassador.

Huang and the Riadys hold a meeting with Clinton. Not long after, Huang goes to work as a Democratic fundraiser, but remains on Commerce's payroll as a $10,000 a month consultant. Huang raises $5 million for the campaign. About a third of that is returned as having come from illegal sources. Among the problem contributions: $250,000 to the DNC from five Chinese businessmen for a brief meeting with Clinton at a fundraiser.

Webster Hubbell, a former Rose law firm partner -- although not known for skill in Asian trade matters -- goes to work for a Lippo Group affiliate after being forced out of the Clinton administration and before going to jail. Is asked at a Senate hearing by the majority counsel: "I guess the question is really this, it is whether, in connection with this representation, you received a large amount of money and that may have had an impact on the degree of your cooperation with the independent counsel or with us?" Hubbell responds, "That's pretty rotten" and chair Al D'Amato changes the subject.

Hubbell had represented both Worthen and James Riady during the 1980s.

1998

Department of Justice announcement: "James Tjahaja Riady will pay a record $8.6 million in criminal fines and plead guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to defraud the United States by unlawfully reimbursing campaign donors with foreign corporate funds in violation of federal election law, the Justice Department's Campaign Financing Task Force and the United States Attorney in Los Angeles announced today.

"In addition, LippoBank California, a California state-chartered bank affiliated with Lippo Group, will plead guilty to 86 misdemeanor counts charging its agents, Riady and John Huang, with making illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 through 1994.

"Riady is one of 26 people and two corporations charged by the Campaign Financing Task Force, which was established four years ago by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate allegations of campaign financing abuses in the 1996 election cycle. . . The $8.6 million fine represents the largest sanction imposed in a campaign finance matter in the history of the United States . . .

"During the period of August 1992 through October 1992, shortly after Riady pledged $1 million in support of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's campaign for the Presidency of the United States, contributions made by Huang were reimbursed with funds wired from a foreign Lippo Group entity into an account Riady maintained at Lippo Bank and then distributed to Huang in cash. . .

"The purpose of the contributions was to obtain various benefits from various campaign committees and candidates for Lippo Group and LippoBank, including: access, meetings, and time with politicians, elected officials, and other high-level government officials; contacts and status for Lippo Group and LippoBank with business and government leaders in the United States and abroad; business opportunities for Lippo Group and defendant LippoBank; government policies which would inure to the benefit of Lippo Group and defendant LippoBank, including Most Favored Nation status for China, open trade policies with Indonesia, normalization of relations with Vietnam, Community Reinvestment Act exemptions for LippoBank, a repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which limited business opportunities for LippoBank, and a relaxation of Taiwanese restrictions on investment by foreign banks; the deposit of funds into LippoBank by political campaign committees and government agencies; and local government support for Lippo Group's California property development projects which would in turn benefit LippoBank's plans for expansion."

MORE ARKANSAS CONNECTIONS

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3 Comments:

Blogger Josh said...

This seems like a great web page.

Here's a story that I recently wrote about the police state in Britain.

http://joshfulton.blogspot.com/2010/01/whats-new-in-british-police-state.html

Thanks.

January 5, 2010 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

If the purpose of government is to give the idiots and the assholes a job at the public's expense, Bill and Hillary Clinton have fulfilled that purpose.

January 5, 2010 8:20 PM  
Blogger m said...

"James Riady, an Indonesian tycoon and devout Christian..."

Who copped to a plea of committing moral turpitude. Who admitted multiple frauds.

Would we call a Buddhist who ate steak a devout Buddhist? Is an atheist who makes mass and confession devout? A Jew who partakes in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?

Reputed Christian. Self-proclaimed (devout) Christian. Perhaps others. But starting with "devout Christian" is peremptory absolution.

January 6, 2010 12:36 PM  

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