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FBI Probes Businessman As Possible Chinese Agent

Los Angeles businessman gave to both Democrats and Republicans

LOS ANGELES (AllPolitics, May 12) -- Federal investigators have identified a Los Angeles-based Asian businessman as a possible Chinese agent, sources close to the FBI probe of campaign fund-raising told the Los Angeles Times.

Chinese emigre Ted Sioeng, owner of a pro-Beijing newspaper and a variety of other businesses, is the first figure known to be suspected of espionage in the ongoing Justice Department investigation of campaign fund-raising.

Sources told the Times that the FBI became interested in Sioeng based on intercepted communications between Beijing and the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. While China's leaders have denied any attempt to influence U.S domestic politics, those communications have revealed a $2 million plan to influence U.S. politicians.

Sources said the FBI was poring over Sioeng's bank records to trace the origins of his money.

Sioeng is a friend of John Huang, the former Democratic National Committee fund-raiser now at the center of the fund-raising scandal. Sioeng sat next to President Bill Clinton at a July fund-raiser, and also attended the controversial fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai Buddhist temple attended by Vice President Al Gore.

His daughter, Jessica Elnitiarta, has donated $250,000 to the DNC through Panda Estates Investment Inc., a family company. DNC spokesperson Amy Weiss Tobe said that since Elnitiarta is a legal citizen, there are no current plans to return the money.

Sioeng has also personally contributed heavily to California's Republican state treasurer, Matt Fong, who is considering a Senate bid. Fong has returned $100,000 donated by Panda Estates.

And in mid-1995, Sioeng accompanied Fong at a meeting with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, which the speaker's office has since called a "photo-op," according to the Times.

The FBI and Justice Department have not commented on this story, nor has Sioeng been reached for comment.