Clinton Foundation mega-donor and longtime Clinton family friend Gilbert Chagoury was denied a visitor visa by the State Department in 2015 for terrorism-related reasons according to government documents, the LA Times reports.
Chagoury’s visa denial derived from his political support for Michel Aoun, a Lebanese Christian politician whose political party is part of a coalition with Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran and which currently holds a terrorist organization classification by the U.S. government.
According to the LA Times, “Last summer, when Chagoury planned a trip to Los Angeles, he applied at the U.S. embassy in Paris for a visitor’s visa and was refused, according to interviews and government documents.”
“Based on the FBI report and other allegations from intelligence and law enforcement sources, the State Department denied the application,” the paper reported. “It cited terrorism-related grounds, a broad category that can apply to anyone believed to have assisted a terrorist group in any way, including providing money.”
Chagoury’s connection to the Clintons date back decades. Chagoury was among the 250 guests who attended the Clintons’ White House Christmas party in 1996, that was just two months after he donated $460,000 to a controversial pro-Clinton Miami-based Democratic voter-registration group.
Chagoury has a long history of legal drama. Once known as the “Kingpin” of Nigerian corruption, Chagoury’s name was once added to a federal terrorist no-fly list back in 2010. After spending several months and thousands in legal fees, Chagoury convinced the U.S. to issue him a written apology, granting him a waiver to fly freely to the U.S. again. The U.S. government did not however provide an explanation for Chagoury’s being added to the list in the first place.
The billionaires name also appeared in email exchanges from when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
In one email exchange, Clinton Foundation senior official Doug Band emailed Clinton’s closest aid Huma Abedin and aid Cheryl Mills requesting help connecting Chagoury with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon affairs. Abedin later promised to contact the “substance person” about the request.
“This is very important,” Band replied, noting the urgency of the request.
Chagoury has donated $1 to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. His company also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, the same year the Clinton Global Initiative awarded the Chagoury Group its annual prize for “sustainable development.”