Clinton Fundraiser Accused of Fraud

By Ed O'Keefe

Apr 4, 2008 12:39pm

ABC News’ Marcus Baram Reports: One of Hillary Clinton’s major fundraisers has reportedly been accused of defrauding the Nigerian government in a pending criminal complaint.

Kase Lawal, an oilman from Texas who owns several energy companies, was accused by Nigeria’s former top anti-corruption official of illegally pumping and exporting 10 million barrels of oil, according to McClatchy Newspapers.

Lawal is one of 250 "Hillraisers" who have pledged to raise at least $100,000 in donations for the candidate. Clinton attended a fundraising luncheon that collected more than $100,000 at Lawal’s home in Houston last August.

The 53-year-old businessman did not return calls from ABCNews.com but he "unequivocally and vigorously" denied the charges to McClatchey reporters, explaining that he has traveled to Nigeria at least 70 times since 1999 and has never been served with legal papers.

Lawal and his family have been bipartisan fundraisers.

His wife, Eileen, contributed $1,000 to Barack Obama’s leadership PAC, the Hope Fund, on April 25, 2006, according to campaign finance databases. Lawal has also raised money for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Although the Nigerian legal system is notorious for politically-influenced prosecutions, Lawal’s prosecutor, Nuhu Ribadu, had a reputation for integrity and recovered $5 billion in stolen funds during his four years as head of the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Though Lawal reportedly claimed that three national police chiefs have told him that the case "has no merit," the commissioner of the federation police’s legal section told reporters that the criminal complaint is pending saying, "I want to go ahead with the case."

A spokesman for the Clinton campaign issued a statement: "Senator Clinton is one of many candidates and public officials to whom Mr. Lawal has donated money. While no vetting process is perfect, our vetting department does extensive vetting in order to catch any issues with donors, and to our knowledge Mr. Lawal is an upstanding member of his community in Houston, TX."

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