|Clinton Donor Pleads Guilty
James Riady Made Illegal Contributions To Clinton Campaign
Associated Press | March 20, 2001
(AP) Indonesian businessman James Riady pleaded guilty Monday to campaign finance violations by himself and his corporation and was sentenced to pay fines of $8.6 million for using foreign corporate funds to back Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.
"Your honor," Riady told U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall, "mistakes have been made, which I regret. I did not have to come back here but I wanted to own up to what I did and put this all behind me. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today."
The judge noted that had Riady chosen to stand trial and been convicted along with his company, LippoBank California, the fine could have been as high as $17.2 million.
Riady's low-key statement came at the end of a marathon seven-hour hearing that lasted into the night as the judge sought to determine that every detail of a plea agreement involving 87 counts was properly entered into under the law.
"There is a plea agreement in this case. The court has decided to accept the plea agreement and sentence in accordance with that," Marshall said.
In addition to the fines, Riady was put on probation for two years and ordered to do 400 hours of community service.
The judge said the community service figure was lower than that given to others in the campaign finance scandal, but she noted that Riady's fine is larger and that without his voluntary return to the United States "there would have been no proceedings regarding this defendant."
Indonesia does not have an extradition agreement with the United States and Riady could have escaped all penalties by simply staying overseas, the judge said.
Riady was to hand over a check for $1 million Monday night and pay the balance of the fines over three months, plus interest.
"The fines to be paid by Mr. Riady are the largest in the history of the United States," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel O'Brien said.
He said that Riady's net worth is about $20 million and that the fines represent about 45 percent of his net worth.
Riady, a member of the family that runs the Indonesia-based global conglomerate Lippo Group, has previously been described as a billionaire.
Marshall said that since case negotiations began, Riady's LippoBank had merged into another bank and ceased to exist. She raised questions about how the fines would be paid and whether they would actually come from Riady's personal funds or other entities.
O'Brien said he could not police the issue of where the money will ultimately come from.
Riady's lawyers said he has represented that the fines will be paid from his personal funds.
The judge questioned Riady, his lawyers, the prosecutors and a probation officer for the better part of two hours while Riady stood facing her. She spent more time explaining his rights to him and going through the details of what he could have faced had he not decided to plead guilty.
Foreign campaign contributions are illegal under U.S. law. Th money was funneled through Hong Kong bank accounts and Lippo entities overseas, the government has said.
According to the government, Lippo Group hoped to influence U.S. foreign policy for its own advantage. Among its goals was to gain most favored nation trade status for China; normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam; open trade policies with Indonesia and certain U.S. legal changes that would benefit the bank's business opportunities.