Friday, October 19, 2007

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW'S BUSH & CLINTON TIMELINES

[The two decade story of interconnections between the Clinton, the Bushes, the S&L and BCCI scandals, China and the Middle East is incredibly complicated. And it never seems to end: the Hsu affair, the link to Clinton fundraiser link to Harken Energy and Chinatown dishwashers making improbably big contributions to HRC recall earlier times when Bill Clinton served as Bush the First's southern point man for Contra operations and began a long history of strange and dubious foreign and business ties. It may be argued that this is not of concern to HRC's campaign but if she is going to claim 35 years of experience, then this certainly has to be part of it]

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.

1982

Financial General changes its name to First American and Clark Clifford is appointed chairman. BCCI fronts begin acquiring controlling interest in banks and other American financial institutions. In Arkansas, Jim McDougal purchases Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan.

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.

State regulators warn McDougal's Madison Guarantee S&L to stop making imprudent loans. Gov. Clinton is also warned of the problem but takes no action.

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.

The Federal Home Loan Bank Board issues a negative report on Madison Guaranty, questioning both its lending practices and its financial stability. The Arkansas Securities Department begins to take steps to close it down.

Foreshadowing future Wall Street interest in Clinton, Goldman Sachs, Payne Webber, Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch all show up as financial backers of the governor. Also on the list: future king-maker Pam Harriman.

But Bill Clinton's funders include not only some of the biggest corporate names ever to show an interest in the tiny state of Arkansas but some of the most questionable. A former US Attorney will later tell author Roger Morris, "That was the election when the mob really came into Arkansas politics. . . It wasn't just Bill Clinton and it went beyond our old Dixie Mafia. . . This was eastern and west coast crime money that noticed the possibilities just like the legitimate corporations did."

Tens of thousands of dollars in mysterious checks begin moving through Whitewater's account at Madison Guaranty. Investigators will later suspect that McDougal was operating a check-kiting scheme to drain money from the S&L.

Ronald Reagan wants to send the National Guard to Honduras to help in the war against the Sandanistas. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis goes to the Supreme Court in a futile effort to stop it but Clinton is happy to oblige, even sending his own security chief, Buddy Young, along to keep an eye on things. Winding up its tour, the Arkansas Guard declares large quantities of its weapons "excess" and leaves them behind for the Contras.

1985

The New Jersey securities firm Bevill, Bresler & Schulman files for bankruptcy amid fraud charges and an estimated $240 million in losses; one of the biggest apparent losers is Stephens-dominated Worthen Bank, which holds with Bevill $52 million of Arkansas state funds in uncollateralized repurchase agreements.

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

A Federal Home Loan Bank Board audit describes Madison as financially reckless, rife with conflicts and on the brink of collapse. It says that the S&L's records are so poor that examiners often could not discover the "real nature" of transactions. In August federal regulators will remove McDougal from the board of Madison.

George W. Bush and partners receive more than $2 million of Harken Energy stock in exchange for their failing oil well operation, which had lost $400,000 in the prior six months. Bush puts up about $500,000 and gets a $120,000 annual consulting fee along with $131,250 in stock options. After Bush joined Harken, the largest stock position and a seat on its board were acquired by Harvard Management Company. Harvard agrees to buy 1.35 million shares of Harken for $2 million and invest another $20 million in Harken projects.

JIM YARDLEY, NY TIMES - In his earliest known tie to the Enron Corporation, President Bush, then an oil man in West Texas, joined an energy drilling venture organized in 1986 by a subsidiary of Enron. The drilling operation - which succeeded in striking oil and natural gas in Martin County - came as Mr. Bush's company, the Spectrum 7 Energy Corporation, was struggling to stay afloat during a collapse in world oil prices. The company was also in final negotiations to be taken over by a Dallas-based company, Harken Energy. Executives involved in the drilling venture characterized it as an ordinary business deal. Enron Oil and Gas, then an exploration subsidiary with offices here in Midland, served as operator and majority partner. Mr. Bush's company, which had a 10 percent working interest in the deal, was one of a handful of minority investors . . .

1987

Harken Energy, with George W Bush on the board, gets rescued by aid from the BCCI-connected Union Bank of Switzerland in a deal brokered by Jackson Stephens, later to show up as a key supporter of Bill Clinton. The deal was also pushed along by another Clinton friend, David Edwards. Edwards will bring BCCI-linked investors into Harken deals including Abdullah Bakhsh, purchases $10 million in shares of Stephens dominated Worthen Bank.

1989

Madison S&L is closed by federal regulators at an eventual cost to taxpayers of $47 million. Jim McDougal is indicted for bank fraud.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau begins a wide-ranging probe of BCCI.

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.

Warren Stephens raises $50,000 overnight so Clinton can buy TV time in his struggling re-election bid.

Jim McDougal is acquitted of bank fraud.

Two months after his father's inauguration, George W. Bush announces that he and a syndicate of investors have purchased the Texas Rangers. The investors are Edward "Rusty" Rose, Richard Rainwater, Bill DeWitt, Roland Betts (a former Yale frat brother) and Tom Bernstein (Bett's partner in a film investment concern). While Bush appears to lead the group, Rainwater makes clear that Rose is to control how the business is run. Bush's stake in the $86 million deal is 2%, financed with a $500,000 loan from a Midland Bank of which he had been a director and $106,000 from other sources. Rainwater and Rose put up 14.2 million, Betts and Bernstein invested about $6 million and the balance comes from smaller investors and loans. Bush will eventually sell his share for $15 million.

Bahrain officials suddenly break off offshore drilling negotiations with Amoco and decide to deal with Harken Energy, George Bush Jr.'s firm. Harken has had a series of failed ventures and no cash, so the Bass brothers are brought in to finance Harken's efforts at a cost of $50 million.

January: Bahrain awards exclusive offshore drilling rights to Harken Oil. This is a surprise as Harken is in very shaky financial condition, has never drilled outside of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma and had never drilled undersea at all. The Bass brothers are brought in by Harken for sufficient equity - $25 million - to proceed with the effort. Harvard Management increases its investment. Harken's stock price rises from $4.50 to $5.50.

May - Harken officials warn board the company is about to run out of cash.

June - Harken drills two dry holes in Bahrain. George W. Bush sells two-thirds of his Harken Energy stock at the top of the market for $850,000, a 200% profit, but makes no report to the SEC as required by law. Bush Jr. says later the SEC misplaced the report. An SEC representative responds: "nobody ever found the 'lost' filing." One week after Bush's sale, Harken reports an earnings plunge. Harken stock falls more than 60%. Bush uses most of the proceeds to pay off the bank loan he had taken a year earlier to finance his portion of the Texas Rangers deal.

August - Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. Harken's stock price drops substantially. Two months after Bush sells his stock, Harken posts losses for the 2nd quarter of well over $20 million and is shares fall another 24 %, by year end Harken is trading at $1.25. Bush has insisted that he did not know about the firm's mounting losses and that his stock sell-off was approved by Harken's general counsel.

October - Arlington, Texas Mayor Richard Greene signs a contract that guarantees $135 million toward the new Texas Ranger Stadium's estimate price of $190 million. The Rangers put up no cash but finance their share through a ticket surcharge. From the team's operating revenues, the city will earn a maximum of $5 million annually in rent, no matter how much the Rangers reap from ticket sales and television (a sum that will rise to $100 million a year). Another provision permits the franchise to buy the stadium after the accumulated rental payments reached a mere $60 million. The property acquired so cheaply by the Rangers includes not just a fancy new stadium with a seating capacity of 49,000 but an additional 270 acres of newly valuable land. Legislation is passed and signed that authorizes the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority with power to issue bonds and exercise eminent domain over any obstinate landowners. Never before had a Texas municipal authority been given the license to seize the property of a private citizen for the benefit of other private citizens. A recalcitrant Arlington family refuses to sell a 13 acre parcel near the stadium site for half its appraised value. The jury awards more than $4 million to the family.

November - Harken transfers $20 million in debts to Harvard partnership, eliminates another $16 million in debt by transferring assets to Harvard.

S&L industry is losing money at the rate of $3 million a minute. Bailout chief estimates total cost at $325-500 billion.

Bush son Jeb gets the federal government to pay off the $4,5 million he owed to a failed Florida thrift. Jeb pays $500,000.

Bush brother Jonathan's east coast brokerage fined in two states for violating laws and Jonathan is barred from public trading in Massachusetts.

Bush's attorney general, Richard Thornberg, is warned about BCCI but does nothing.

1991

Clinton buddy and Little Rock restaurant owner, Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, starts Daihatsu International Trading Co., with offices in Arkansas, Washington, and Beijing.

January: President Bush attacks Iraq.

February: Dubya, as the official in charge at Harken, reports his stock sale to the SEC - eight months late.

April - The SEC begins an investigation into Harken dealings. Chairman Richard Breeden, who was appointed by the senior Bush and served him as an economic policy adviser, hails from Baker & Botts, a big Texas oil law firm where he was a partner. Inside the SEC, James Doty, general counsel and the official in charge of any litigation that might come out of the Harken investigation, is another alumnus of Baker & Botts. And as a private attorney, before joining the government, Doty represented the younger Bush in matters related to Dubya's ownership of the Rangers.

August - The SEC reports that its staff has reviewed thousands of pages of documents, interviewed witnesses and met lawyers for Harken and Mr Bush. It concludes that there is insufficient evidence to determine that Mr Bush had any inside information or advance knowledge of Harken's losses. The SEC recommends that the matter be closed.

September: Harvard begins selling Harken stock at more than $6 a share, receiving $7.4 million over the next 12 months.

Former top aide to White House Chief of Staff John Sununu goes to work for a prominent figure in the BCCI scandal less than a month after leaving the Bush administration. Edward Rogers Jr. signs a $600,000 contract to give legal advice to Sheik Kamal Adham, an ex-Saudi intelligence officer who is being investigated for his role in BCCI's takeover of First American Bancshares.

The Miami acting US Attorney is allegedly rebuffed by the Justice Department in his efforts to indict BCCI and some of its principal officers on tax fraud charges. Justice Department later denies this occurred.

1992

The Worthen Bank gives Clinton a $3.5 million line of credit allowing the cash-strapped candidate to finish the primaries. Stephens Inc. employees give Clinton more than $100,000 for his presidential campiagn.

Soraya and Arief Wiriadinata, the daughter and son-in-law of Lippo's co-founder, donate $450,000 to the DNC. Arief Wiriadinata came to the US from Indonesia allegedly to study landscape architecture -- although some accounts describe him simply as a gardener. At last reports Wiriadinata is now back home, working for Sea World Indonesia.

A grand jury indicts BCCI principals, including Clark Clifford and Robert Altman. A week later, a grand jury in Washington and the Federal Reserve issue separate actions against Clifford and Altman.

Resolution Trust Corporation field officers forward a criminal referral on Madison Guaranty to Charles Banks, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The referral alleges a check-kiting scheme by Madison owners Jim and Susan McDougal and names the Clintons and Jim Guy Tucker as possible beneficiaries. Banks forwards the referral to Washington.

New York Times reports that three of Bush's top fundraisers are being sued in connection with bank failures and another pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with an S&L. These men include the GOP national finance chair, vice chair and two co-chairs of the President's Dinner, which raised $9 million for Republican causes.

First of Harken Energy's wells off Bahrain comes up dry. George W. Bush takes a leave of absence from the firm to work in his father's campaign, saying "I don't want to involve this company in any kind of allegations of conflicts or whatever may arise."

1993

The SEC ends a perfunctory investigation of Harken.

John Huang and James Riady give $100,000 to Clinton's inaugural fund . . . February: 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 . . . June: 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.

White House agrees to sell a Cray supercomputer to China in what was described as a good will gesture. Up to that point the fastest computer in China could do no more than 70 million calculations per second; the Cray has a speed of 958 million calculations per second. Before the China - Clinton connection is over, the president will have removed $2 billion in trade with China from national security scrutiny. Among the results: the Chinese will obtain 77 supercomputers that can scramble and unscramble secret data and design nuclear weapons. At least some of them will be used by the Chinese military.

President Clinton will also sign national security waivers to allow four US commercial satellites to be launched in China, despite evidence that China was exporting nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan and Iran, among other nations. One of these satellites belongs to Loral. Nine days later a Chinese Long March rocket carrying a $200 million satellite belonging to Loral fails in mid-flight. A subsequent law suit charges that the circuit board from the highly classified encryption device in the satellite was found to be missing when the Chinese returned debris from the explosion to US authorities, even though a control box containing the circuit board was recovered intact. After the crash, NSA reportedly changes the encoded algorithms used by US satellites because of the apparent release of highly classified information. Throughout these dealings, the CEO of Loral, Bernard Schwartz, will contribute at least $1.5 million to the Democrats, making him the single largest contributor to these groups during the period in question.

Commerce Secretary Ron Brown treats his post as just another place to wheel and deal. On one occasion he okays the sale of new American engines for China to put in its cruise missiles. The engines were built as military equipment but Brown reclassifies them as civilian. . . The Saudis want some American planes; Brown tells them: you want the planes you also want a phone contract with ATT. Cost of the planes and hardware: $6 billion. Cost of the phone contract: $4 billion. Part of the deal is an ATT side agreement with a firm called First International. The owner: Ron Brown.

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."

1995

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 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.

Three weeks later, John Huang quits the Lippo Group -- with a golden parachute of around $800,000 -- and goes to work for the Commerce Department. Some believe the move is instigated by Hillary Clinton. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown orders a top secret clearance for Huang. While at Commerce, Huang visits the White House about 70 times, is briefed 37 times by the CIA, views about 500 intelligence reports, and makes 281 calls to Lippo banks. He also makes extraordinary use of the fax machine at a Stephens Inc office across the street from Commerce.
House Banking Committee chair James Leach finds a known Clinton private investigator scoping out his house. The PI quickly leaves. Leach doesn't go public with the story but tells colleagues that the intended message was clear: "You mess with us, we'll mess with you."

Macao businessman Ng Lap Seng, closely linked to a couple of major Chinese-owned enterprises, is regularly bringing in large sums of money to the US, according to customs records. On June 20 he arrives with $175,000 and then two days later meets with Charlie Trie and Mark Middleton at the White House. That evening Ng sits at Clinton's table at a DNC fundraiser. Middleton, incidentally, has a 24-hour pass that allowed him to visit Trie's apartment at the Watergate at any time. The apartment is paid for by Ng.
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."