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Billionaire Clinton Foundation Donor, Feds Settle Lawsuit Over Reports of Terrorism Ties

Gilbert Chagoury / Twitter
• August 1, 2017 12:54 pm

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A billionaire Clinton Foundation donor has struck a deal with the U.S. government to settle a lawsuit over leaks that indicated he was fundraising for a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian-born businessman who lives in Lebanon, filed a lawsuit last September against the FBI, CIA, Department of Justice, and several other agencies over leaks that "improperly impugned" his reputation and denied his constitutional rights, Politico reported Monday.

News reports surfaced last year that Chagoury, who contributed millions to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, was denied entry into the United States in 2015 due to his connection to a Lebanese organization allied with Hezbollah, a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization.

Chagoury later filed a lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. federal court charging that the State Department refused to grant him a visa because of "false information." He said that the government "compounded this injustice" by leaking information about the incident to a Los Angeles Times reporter, who wrote about his banned entry into the country.

The National Counter Terrorism Center, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were also implicated in the suit.

Under the settlement that Chagoury recently reached with the U.S. government, he is effectively dropping the lawsuit. But Chagoury was able to get the government to confirm that he has never been on a U.S. sanctions list and that financial institutions can do business with him.

"As I have often said, I have loved America my whole life because it was the land of freedom and justice," Chagoury said. "I am pleased that the U.S. government has officially recognized that I am not and have never been on the SDN list, and that this matter that began due to someone spreading false and injurious information about me is finally closed."

The Justice Department did not concede in the settlement that any U.S. official broke the law, although the government said that the anonymous leaks may have violated both internal policies and federal law.

Chagoury dropped a portion of the lawsuit that could have set precedent, Politico reported.

The suit initially looked to have the potential to set precedent because it sought recourse under the Judicial Redress Act, a 2016 law protecting the privacy rights of foreigners. However, Chagoury later dropped that element of the case.

The settlement, filed on Friday, was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on Sunday.

Chagoury was implicated last year in pay-to-play accusations that Clinton Foundation donors were given special access to Hillary Clinton's State Department during her tenure as secretary of state. State Department emails released in August 2016 showed that a top Clinton Foundation associate in 2009 pushed to set up a meeting between Chagoury and the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon because of the billionaire's affairs in the region.