Showing posts with label donor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label donor. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chasing the Ghosts of a Corrupt Regime Gilbert Chagoury, Clinton donor and diplomat with a checkered past.

In July 2004, police lay in wait at an airfield in the far northeastern corner of Nigeria. Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese businessman and one-time adviser to the late dictator Sani Abacha, was set to touch down in his private jet. Nuhu Ribadu, then the country's top anti-corruption prosecutor, says that Chagoury was a kingpin in the corruption that defined Abacha's regime.
"You couldn't investigate corruption without looking at Chagoury," Ribadu tells me in a recent interview in California.
Six years after Abacha's death, Ribadu's officers stood ready to take Chagoury down. Ribadu says that Chagoury made it possible for Abacha to steal billions of dollars and lined his own pockets in the process. The prosecutor says he indicted Chagoury and ordered his arrest for relatively minor violations related to Chagoury's businesses so that he could later bring additional charges for his activities in the Abacha era.
Gilbert Chagoury attending a benefit in
 Beverly Hills, California, in 2008.
Photo: Getty Images.
But, no sooner had Chagoury's plane hit the ground, than it took off again. Ribadu says it's likely that an airport official tipped him off, and Ribadu's big catch slipped away, literally into thin air.
Chagoury was among the last of the all-powerful middlemen who served the heads of oil-rich African states, says Philippe Vasset, longtime editor of Africa Energy Intelligence, one of a series of influential energy industry newsletters. "He [Chagoury] was the gatekeeper to Abacha's presidency," Vasset says.
In many African countries, a Western entrepreneur might hand over money to a fixer or middleman, who would then pass it on to a political leader in exchange for support for a business venture. In Nigeria, Vasset explains, Chagoury was just such a figure in the mid-1990s, when Abacha ruled the country and held the key to much of the country's oil wealth.


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