- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2001

Indonesian billionaire James Riady has agreed to pay a record $8.6 million criminal fine and plead guilty to using foreign funds to reimburse contributors to Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign for the presidency, the Justice Department announced last night.
Mr. Riady, a key figure in the Clinton-Gore campaign finance scandal, pledged $1 million to support the then-Arkansas governor's campaign, the government said.
Under terms of a plea bargain filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Mr. Riady agreed to surrender and come to this country at an unspecified future date even though there is no extradition treaty between Indonesia and the United States.
Mr. Riady also agreed to cooperate with the government's continuing investigation. It was not clear last night if that meant he would testify about the involvement of Mr. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.
Mr. Clinton had no comment on the guilty plea, spokesman Jake Siewert said.
According to the plea bargain papers, Mr. Riady agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to defraud the United States. Foreign campaign contributions are illegal under U.S. law.
In addition, LippoBank California, a California state-chartered bank affiliated with Lippo Group, agreed to plead guilty to 86 misdemeanor accounts charging that its agents, Mr. Riady and Huang, made illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 through 1994.
The total of $8,610,000 in fines is the largest ever imposed in a campaign finance case in U.S. history, the department said.
An FBI summary released last year said Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, a Riady employee, said that Mr. Riady had told the Arkansas governor during a limousine ride that he wanted to raise $1 million for his campaign. Huang himself pleaded guilty to a campaign financing felony and has been cooperating with the government since August 1999.
In April, Mr. Clinton told federal investigators that he did not have "a specific recollection of what the conversation was, or this fact of the car ride." He said he only remembered seeing Mr. Riady "sometime in '92 after I became the nominee," and that Mr. Riady pledged to help his campaign.
Mr. Riady is one of 26 persons and two corporations so far charged by Justice's campaign finance task force since it was established four years ago.
A Justice Department official, requesting anonymity, said federal sentencing guidelines would not call for a prison term for a first-time offender like Mr. Riady for this type of felony conviction.
This official added that independent counsel Robert Ray, who is investigating Mr. Clinton on other matters, was consulted and indicated that the plea agreement was consistent with the best interests of his investigation, which does not include campaign financing.
Mr. Ray's office has prosecuted former Justice official and Clinton friend Webster L. Hubbell and has investigated whether payments to him, including $100,000 from Lippo Group, after he resigned were designed to keep him from testifying against Mr. Clinton or his wife, Hillary.
A videotape of a December 1995 White House "coffee" also shows Mr. Gore talking with Arief Wiriadinata, an Indonesian gardener who illegally donated $455,000 to the Democratic Party in 1995, and records comments by the vice president to Mr. Wiriadinata concerning Mr. Riady.
Attorney General Janet Reno considered but rejected a special counsel to investigate Mr. Gore's 1996 campaign fund-raising activities.
The government's court filing said the goal of the contributions was to obtain access, meetings and time with politicians, elected officials and top government officials; to enhance the contacts and status of the Lippo Group and LippoBank with business and government leaders here and abroad, and to find business opportunities for Lippo Group and LippoBank.
The government said that federal policies that would benefit Lippo Group including granted most-favored-nation trade status to China, which the Clinton administration recently obtained from Congress; normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam; open trade policies with Indonesia; Community Reinvestment Act exemptions for Lippo Bank and a repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which limited business opportunities for LippoBank.
Since August, Mr. Riady, an Indonesian citizen, has met about half a dozen times with U.S. prosecutors and FBI agents to outline the information he could provide as part of a plea bargain.
Mr. Riady will waive his legal right to apply for re-entry into the United States for a period of two years, except when his presence is requested to fulfill his agreement to cooperate with the continuing investigation.
He also agreed to perform 400 hours of community service and forfeit to the U.S. Treasury any refunds that might be issued to him by any political campaign committees because of yesterday's announcement. He will be barred from making or directing any future campaign contributions in U.S. elections.
The government's court filing said that between May 1990 and June 1994, Mr. Riady and Huang, who worked in the Commerce Department and for the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration, conspired to obstruct the Federal Election Commission by secretly reimbursing campaign contributions with funds from foreign people or companies, who are barred from U.S. contributions, and by exceeding U.S. limits on campaign contributions.
The government's filing said Mr. Riady reimbursed Huang and LippoBank employees for their contributions with wire transfers from a foreign Lippo Group entity, cash in Hong Kong and a fictitious bonus issued to Huang by a foreign Lippo Group entity.
Mr. Riady has been to the White House twice since Mr. Clinton was elected: once in 1993 and again in 1995 for brief "meet and greet" visits, according to White House records. Mr. Riady also participated in Mr. Clinton's 1992 economic conference in Little Rock and the president met with him briefly during his visit to Indonesia in 1994.


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