Riady to Pay Record $8.6 Million Fine

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 12, 2001 -- Billionaire Indonesian banker James Riady, long accused of illegally funnelling campaign contributions to President Clinton, will plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay a record $8.6 million fine, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Riady will pay the fine as a penalty for unlawfully reimbursing Clinton campaign donors with foreign funds from 1990-94, the department said in a statement.

Riady will also perform 400 hours of community service and forfeit to the U.S. Treasury any refunds issued him from any political campaign committees in the wake of this announcement, the statement said.

He will also be barred from making, reimbursing or directing any future campaign contributions in U.S. elections, it said. His plea agreement was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In addition, LippoBank California, the California arm of Indonesia's Lippo Group, will plead guilty to 86 misdemeanor counts charging its agents, Riady and campaign contributor John Huang with making illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 through 1994.

Huang pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges in 1999.

Lippo officials have reportedly been among those reimbursed for contributing to Clinton's campaign.

$1 Million Pledge

From "August 1992 through October 1992, shortly after Riady pledged $1 million in support" for Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, "contributions made by Huang were reimbursed with funds wired from a foreign Lippo Group entity," the statement says.

Investigators began looking into allegations of the illegal contributions by 1997. Last August, Indonesian authorities announced they were cooperating with FBI investigators.

Riady is one of 26 people and two corporations charged by the Campaign Financing Task Force, established two years ago to look into allegations of campaign finance improprieties.

The statement says Riady will turn himself into U.S. authorities, then plead guilty and continue cooperating with them, although there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Indonesia. He is to turn himself to Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday, at 9 a.m.

It says the contributions were made to get access and favors for Lippo.

Riady's Hubbell Connection

Under the plea deal, Riady is required to — and has already begun — cooperating with Independent Counsel Robert Ray. Top Justice Department officials tell ABCNEWS that the information Riady has provided to Ray already "has assisted their office."

The independent counsel's office has long been interested in Riady's connection to long-time Clinton friend and former business associate Webster Hubbel.

Riady paid Hubbell $100,000 in 1994 after Hubbell had resigned from his job in Clinton Justice Department but before he had pleaded guilty to defrauding his law firm in the Whitewater investigation of Ray's predecessor, Kenneth Starr.

After Hubbell pleaded guilty in June 1999, his lawyer said Starr had agreed "never to investigate or prosecute Hubbell again." But Starr had targeted Hubbell, in part, with the hopes of uncovering information about the Clintons' involvement in a botched Arkansas real estate deal that came to be known as "Whitewater."

Last fall, after more than five years of investigation, the independent counsel's office released a statement determining "the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either [the] President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct" in "Whitewater."

ABCNEWS' Beverley Lumpkin contributed to this report.

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