When Hillary was Secretary of State Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury was king thanks to his 1 billion dollar pledge to the Clinton Foundation. Now that she is gone, not so much. He was turned down last year when he tried to enter the United States because he funds a group that supplies Hezbollah with funds to commit terrorism. He was stopped from flying on his private jet in the US in 2010. But miraculously, not only did he end up being allowed to move around as he wished, he was even given an apology. In 2009, Chagoury pledged 1 billion dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
The US knew in 2007 that Chagoury was funding Aoun, who was then passing money on to Hezbollah. Yet, in 2009, Hillary wanted Chagoury to have an influential position in Lebanon. That deal was brokered between Doug Band and Huma Abedin, two Clinton Foundation employees. Band later started a company that sells influence and he gave Huma a job there while she was still at the State Department.
“We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re Lebanon. As you known, he’s key guy there and to us,” Band wrote to Abedin in the email, which was released by Judicial Watch.
Abedin told Band, who reportedly invited Chagoury to his wedding, that Feltman was the proper contact. Feltman had officially left his post as ambassador to Lebanon but would take the position of assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs in Aug. 2009.
“This is very important,” Band wrote back to Abedin, urging her to call Feltman on Chagoury’s behalf.
Chagoury, who pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, told The Times that he never made contact with Feltman.
The Clinton campaign denied that the Band-Abedin email was evidence of a quid pro quo. According to a CNN report from earlier this month, the Clinton campaign said on background that Chagoury sought contact with a U.S. official in charge of Lebanese affairs in order to discuss issues related to elections that would be held months later.
It is not clear what election issues Chagoury wanted to discuss. Aoun was up for re-election that year.
Chagoury has had ties with the Clinton that goes back to at least 1996, when he funded a democratic voter registration drive:
Chagoury, who operates a development and oil empire, was invited to and attended a Dec. 21, 1996 White House dinner after he gave $460,000 to a voter registration group called Vote Now 96. As a foreign citizen, Chagoury was prohibited from contributing directly to politicians. But his generous contribution to Vote Now 96 earned him a White House invite at the behest of the Democratic National Committee, according to reports at the time.
Several years later, in 2000, Chagoury was convicted in a Swiss court of laundering billions of dollars on behalf of Abacha, who died in 1998.
That conviction, which was handed down in absentia, did not end the Clinton-Chagoury relationship, however. According to The Times, Chagoury helped arrange a speech for Bill Clinton in St. Lucia in 2003. Clinton was paid $100,000 to appear at the event, which was hosted by a company called Financial Innovations Inc.
Financial Innovations Inc. was owned by Mark Weiner, a former DNC official and longtime political operative who died last month. According to a 1997 article from the Washington Post, Weiner was the official responsible for soliciting Chagoury’s contributions to Vote Now 96.