Remember James Riady? | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Remember James Riady?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 8:32 AM

The Indonesian banker James Riady, banned from the U.S. for a guilty plea in a Clinton campaign finance scandal in 2001, has managed to work his way back onto American soil for brief visits, including a call on Rex Horne, president of Ouachita Baptist University, which gave Riady an unnnounced honorary degree in 2004.

This is all part of a detailed report on Riady's activities by the Washington Post.

Riady has worked hard -- and spent lavishly -- to put the Clinton-era scandals behind him. He has donated large sums to charity, nurtured close ties with U.S. Christian groups and befriended U.S. diplomats and business people in Indonesia.

Ouachita Baptist University, which gave Riady the 2004 honorary degree, won't say how much he donates to a scholarship fund, or comment on whether he's provided other money. Biola University, a Christian school in Southern California visited by Riady in October, has also received money but won't say how much.

The businessman has also donated to Christian causes in Indonesia, a mostly Muslim nation with a small but influential community of Christians. A massive new church, seminary and concert hall complex in Jakarta was built with Riady's help, said its chief pastor, Stephen Tong. Riady also supports a Christian university and a high school. Forbes magazine last year named him a "hero of philanthropy."

The Post has long followed the Riady-Clinton connection. Here's a piece from 1997 that described the presidential ties developed by the Riady family -- who met Clinton in 1978 after they bought Worthen Bank -- with the help of Little Rock lawyers Webb Hubbell and Mark Grobmyer.

The current piece brings in Hillary Clinton's role as secretary of state to suggest a link to Riady's obtaining a visa. He got it to, among others, attend his children's graduation exercises in the U.S. The article, however, shows no connection between the visa and Clinton and indicates Riady's efforts to gain access to the U.S. again may have been cleared during the closing days of the Bush administration.

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