BEVERLY HILLS, AUGUST 30, (THEWILL) – Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury, a strong donor to the Clinton Foundation and owner of the Eko Hotel in Lagos and the Eko Atlantic City, has been denied entry into the United States.
Chagoury, one of Africa’s richest men, has built a reputation as a giant of global philanthropy but is accused of facilitating fundraising for Hezbollah, an organisation classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S., responsible for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and a Marine barracks blast that year that killed 241 American servicemen.
The Los Angeles Times in a report said, Drug Enforcement Administration investigations have also found that Hezbollah is in league with Latin American cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits.
The report added that Chagoury was known to have funded Michel Aoun, a Lebanese Christian politician who served as Army Commander and Prime Minister during the country’s civil war, whose party has been part of a political coalition with Hezbollah and transfers money to the organisation.
Thus, the U.S. put Chagoury in its database used to screen travellers for possible links to terrorism and was denied a US visitor’s visa last summer when he applied at the U.S. embassy in Paris for a planned trip to Los Angeles.
Although, Chagoury has denied ties to Hezbollah, he helped pay for a conference, two years ago, in Washington on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East where some attendees supported Hezbollah.
Since the 1990s, Chagoury has cultivated a friendship with the Clinton family and has contributed at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 1996, he gave $460,000 to a voter registration group steered by Bill Clinton’s allies and was rewarded with an invitation to a White House dinner. He also attended Clinton’s 60th birthday fundraiser and helped arrange a visit to St. Lucia, where the former president was paid $100,000 for a speech.
As Hillary Clinton runs for the White House, her family foundation has become politically problematic with Republicans suggesting she and husband Bill Clinton were running a ‘pay-to-play’ enterprise between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.
By last summer, U.S. diplomats had selected a 9.9-acre property at Eko Atlantic, owned by Chagoury, as the preferred site for a new Lagos consulate but it is unclear if the Clintons recommended the property.
“Chagoury’s name has been brought up of late, because of an ask Clinton Foundation head Doug Band made of Hillary Clinton’s State Department – he wanted to put the donor, whose parents were Lebanese, in touch with the American government’s top Lebanon person,” the US’s daily stated.
“Donald Trump, among others, used the correspondence to try and show that the Clintons were running a ‘pay-for-play’ enterprise between the State Department and the family foundation, where Chagoury had been a million dollar donor.”
Chagoury also has given to Republicans: He and his brother, along with Eko Atlantic, are listed as sponsors for a 2014 art exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Born in 1946 in Lagos to Lebanese parents, Chagoury has been a confidant of many African leaders and serves as ambassador of St Lucia, in the Americas.
His business empire has interests in construction, real estate, property development and hotels and was also a close ally of Gen. Sani Abacha and tried to influence American policy to be more friendly to the regime.
After Abacha’s death in 1998, some of the looted funds by the regime was traced to Chagoury who denied knowing the funds were stolen and paid a fine of 1 million Swiss francs and returned $65 million to Nigeria.
He co-founded the Chagoury Group with his younger brother Ronald Chagoury in 1971. Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury founded C & C Construction in the late 1970s, which was the forerunner of Hitech and ITB.
The family has an estimated wealth of $4.2 billion.