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Times: Clinton Supporters Wanted To Buy A U.S. Bank

It's the first indication of a specific business objective

James Riady

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 24) -- The Riady family, enmeshed in the Democratic campaign finance flap, wanted to buy a U.S. bank, but abandoned their plans when they became embroiled in the probe into overseas contributions to the Democrats, The New York Times reported today.

The Indonesian family's interest in purchasing a bank is the first indication of a specific business objective and it could help explain why the business conglomerate might have sought access and influence in Washington, D.C.

Even a normal transaction would have meant running a gauntlet of regulatory agencies, the Times reported, and the Riadys were concerned that their strong ties to China and past run-ins with banking officials in the U.S. would have made for an even more tortuous process.

The Times quoted one unnamed Riady competitor as saying, "They knew it would be a tough sell in Washington, given their past problems. But this [the campaign finance controversy] made it impossible."

The family wanted to control a bank accessible to West Coast residents, and members were in the process of contacting California banks before they decided not to proceed. The deal would have been a multi-billion dollar transaction.

Lanny Davis, the White House special counsel, was unable to say whether President Bill Clinton or Hillary Rodham Clinton were aware of the Riadys' efforts to buy a bank.

The Riadys are longtime supporters of Clinton, and the president has met with James Riady on several occasions. The investigation into campaign finance abuses centers on former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, who left the Riady business group in 1994 to join the Commerce Department, and later moved to the Democratic National Committee.

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