The Green Zone
DNC, Obama to Donate Arrested Fundraiser's Money
By Dan Eggen
President Obama and the Democratic National Committee will donate to charity more than $60,000 that came from a prominent financier arrested this week on bank fraud charges, officials said Thursday.
New York investment banker Hassan Nemazee, who acted as a major fundraiser for Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats, was charged in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday with lying about his assets in order to secure a $74 million loan from Citibank. Nemazee is under house arrest after posting a $25 million bond.
Prosecutors have not alleged any connection between Nemazee's alleged fraud and his political fundraising, but Democrats have been scrambling to distance themselves from the case by either returning contributions or donating them to charity in recent days.
Under the plans announced today by the DNC, the party committee will give away $7,100 contributed by Nemazee in 2008 and 2009 and the Obama for America campaign will donate to charity another $4,600. The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which organized activities celebrating Obama's swearing-in in January, will also donate $50,000 to charity that Nemazee gave to the organization, officials said.
Nemazee, chairman and chief executive of a self-named Manhattan investment firm, emerged as a Democratic heavyweight in recent years after serving as a regional fundraiser for Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and as finance chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The Iranian American son of a shipping tycoon became co-chairman of Clinton's presidential fundraising efforts before going on to raise more than $500,000 for Obama, making him one of the campaign's top financial bundlers.
Nemazee was President Bill Clinton's nominee in 1999 to be ambassador to Argentina, but his name was withdrawn amid objections from Republicans about the propriety of some of his investments.
According to the criminal complaint filed against him in Manhattan, Nemazee provided false account numbers, references and other information to Citibank to support his asset claims for the $74 million loan. He was first interviewed by FBI agents on Sunday as he was preparing to board a plane to Rome and returned the $74 million to Citibank on Monday. The 59-year-old financier spent a night in jail before being released wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on Wednesday.
Posted at 1:29 PM ET on Aug 27, 2009
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