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Report: Jailed Millionaire Missed Dinner With Clinton


NEW YORK (AllPolitics, March 22) -- An African multi-millionaire had to pass up a dinner invitation with President Bill Clinton because he was being extradited from Geneva to Miami that evening, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper said a week before the September 6 dinner at a Washington hotel, Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko was arrested on a U.S. warrant and charged with trying to smuggle two military helicopters to Africa and offering a $30,000 bribe to a U.S. Customs agent.

Asked about the matter Saturday, White House Associate Counsel Lanny Davis told CNN: "Without knowing the details of the incident, it appears that this is yet another example of inadequate screening procedures in place at the Democratic National Committee, which the President has said disappointed him greatly."

In its report, the Times said Sissoko, after arriving in Florida, tried to use the dinner invitation as a reason why he should be released from jail. The unimpressed judge set bail at $20 million, a south Florida record.

Sissoko, 52, quickly met bail and subsequently pleaded guilty to one reduced count of offering a "gratuity," rather than a bribe, to the Customs agent, the Times said. The smuggling charge was dropped.

Next month, Sissoko -- a dual citizen of Gambia and Mali -- is to begin serving a four-month sentence in federal prison followed by four months of house arrest in Miami, the newspaper said.

Sissoko owns a majority interest in Negoce International, a New York affiliate of his multinational corporation with diamond mines, casinos and other ventures in Africa and the Middle East. He had visited the United States on only two occasions before his arrest.

According to the paper, John A. Catsimatidis, a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee, extended the dinner invitation to Sissoko, hoping the multi-millionaire would donate money to the party. Much to the Democrats' current relief, he never made a donation.

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