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Former U.S. Official Denies Fund-Raising Allegations

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- A Clinton appointee who was forced to resign says he is the victim of false allegations that he tried to raise campaign donations from Taiwanese businessmen.

James C. Wood was the managing director of the semi-official American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests there, but says he was forced out of that position by Secretary of State Warren Christopher on Jan. 17.

Woods confirms that he has received subpoenas from Senate investigators and from the Department of Justice seeking information about news accounts linking him to campaign fund-raising in Taiwan, and to Democratic fund-raiser John Huang.

warren christopher

But, he says, "I never asked for or received any campaign contributions and I never referred anyone to John Huang for anything."

Wood attributed his troubles to what he described as irresponsible news reporters and a vengeful predecessor. He said he had uncovered "corruption, fraud, personal profiteering and sexual harassment" at the institute during the tenure of the previous chairman, Nat Bellocchi. It was Bellocchi who suggested that the State Department investigate Wood. Wood said his own accusations had been met with "a quiet coverup" and that law-enforcement officials were not pursuing them expeditiously.

In a CNN interview, Bellocchi said he has a lot of contact with the Taiwanese in his business dealings and had heard rumors about Woods.

"It was something I passed on very informally. The fact that it got into a report to the Inspector General and then became public -- that's something that someone over at the State Department has to be addressed on," he said.

Wood said that while he was running the institute he discovered that $5.3 million in visa fees were "missing," and that visas had been traded for sex. But when pressed for details he would not name those responsible. He said he had been questioned by the FBI about "espionage" linked to Bellocchi, but then said, "I'm not accusing Mr. Bellocchi of anything."

huang

Bellocchi said that he had not heard of the sexual harassment charges (which are not against him) until now and that, as chairman, he had been working to fix other problems at AIT.

"Everything we were doing, I thought we were making very good progress even though it was far too slow for me. I would have liked to have moved much faster; things in a bureaucracy don't move that fast," Bellocchi said.

Bellocchi said that because of AIT's odd status as a quasi-government, quasi-private organization which takes its marching orders from the State Department, its books are open and scrutinized regularly.

"They're welcome to investigate all they want," Bellocchi said.

Bellocchi said he knew Huang from his job at Commerce but did not know of his fund-raising activities.


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