Whitewater team probes HK company

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 1997, 12:00am

A Hong Kong company controlled by Indonesia's powerful Riady family has become a focus of American investigators heading the Whitewater probe.

The independent prosecutor investigating the land deals that involved President Bill Clinton and the First Lady has turned to several Hong Kong sources in his investigation of former White House aide Webster Hubbell.

Hubbell, a former associate attorney-general who has pleaded guilty to embezzling cash from his and Hillary Rodham Clinton's former law firm in Arkansas, is now under the microscope for payments of at least US$250,000 (HK$1.93 million) he received from the Riady family's companies.

The Riady family, which controls the Lippo group of companies, has already made headlines over the involvement of former executive John Huang in the Democrats' fund-raising scandals.

The latest developments are evidence of an increasing overlap between that affair and the longer-standing probe of Whitewater affairs.

According to The New York Times, Hubbell received US$400,000 for legal work immediately on resigning his Justice Department job over the Whitewater probe in April 1994.

Much of that money is said to have come from Hong Kong China Ltd, a Riady-owned firm in the territory which played a leading role in a US$2 billion joint venture between US and Chinese firms in Fujian province.

The venture, which included a massive power plant, received Clinton administration approval about the time Hubbell was working on it.

According to reports, Hong Kong China Ltd and one of its senior executives, David Yeh, are named in several subpoenas served on the White House by Whitewater investigators seeking information about Hubbell's activities.

The documents also demand the White House provides information on another Lippo company in the territory, the Hong Kong Chinese Bank, family member Stephen Riady, and the Lippo Insurance Group (Asia) Ltd.

Hubbell, a close friend of the Clintons, said he was never asked for anything in return for Lippo's money, but refused to say what work he did perform.

He declined to discuss who hired him and why, claiming client confidentiality.