By S. Golding, PoW/MIA Forum

We know that with the untimely death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, the investigation into his alleged acceptance of a bribe, to help forge the lifting of the US imposed trade embargo and to re-establish diplomatic relations between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the United States, would come to a screeching halt and Mr. Brown would be officially vindicated.

We have to wonder, though, if the investigation into Brown's activities had continued would it have uncovered the Riady/Lippo connection long before now?

The investigation found that Brown did "no wrongdoing." One must wonder if "no wrongdoing" means that Brown did not accept money in exchange for his influence at the White House and other powers behind the scenes?

Consider "Key Money". It is perfectly legal, reported income. It can be funneled through a wide varierty of enterprises. But by its definition--it's a bribe. One must wonder if Mr. Brown accepted this key money to lobby the President into lifting the trade embargo and to go forward with normalizing relations with Vietnam. It is perfectly legal to accept key money, but it is morally bankrupt.

Key money is given to influence the acceptor of the key money into performing a service that the giver of the key money wants the accepter to perform. Sounds like a bribe to me!

The difference between key money and a bribe is that key money gets reported to the government somehow as income--be it a non profit organization, business venture, or venture captial--it gets reported. A bribe does not.

So perhaps when government officials claim that Mr. Brown did no wrongdoing they are whitewashing a bribe and turning it into the perfectly legal key money. Perfectly. But nonetheless, morally bankrupt.

John Huang was appointed to a Commerce Department position and immediately began to aggressively pursue a new U.S. trade policy toward Vietnam, a mere One Day after his July 1994 appointment to Commerce! He continued this campaign over the next 17 months.

Huang's former employer, the Riady/Lippo Group appears to have been posturizing for positions of influence for some time before Commerce Secretary Brown came under investigation.

  • Earl Lance, Jimmy Carter's Budget Director, had ties to James Riady. Lance was later convicted of malfeasance. Key Money?

  • Frances Zwenig, John Kerry's (D-MA) chief of Staff for the now defunct Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs, was given a position at Commerce in the Vietnam Interests Section until some genius decided it may be a conflict of interest. Ms. Zwenig coached the Vietnamese on how to testify before the SSC in order to show that Hanoi was cooperating; an obstacle in the way of lifting the embargo or normalizing. . .until now. Zwenig currently heads a US based organization that lobbies American business to invest on Vietnam. Who pays her salary? Key Money?

  • Kenneth Conboy was Riady/Lippo Groups man in the think tank The Heritage Foundation during the Bush Administration. Conboy would write OP-ED pieces in favor of relations with Vietnam under the auspices of the Heritage Foundation. Who contributed to the Heritage Foundation's coffers? Key Money?

  • The US Veteran Dispatch has written a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms (R-NC), detailing that some of the Riady/Lippo Groups money has found its way into Helms' campaign as well as others. Interestingly, Helms and Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) co-introduced a Senate Bill urging the lifting of the trade embargo contingent upon the Vietnamese returning American properties that were siezed after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Not surprisingly, the top 10 properties listed were siezed from what would appear to be a Who's Who in the American Oil Industry. Helm's Foreign Relations Committee just confirmed the appointment of former Congressman and POW Pete Peterson as the first US Ambassador to Vietnam in 50 years. Key Money?

    Click here to View US Veteran's Dispatch Letter

  • General John Vessey, who brings new meaning to the numbers game and full cooperation, is heavily involved in the airline industry now; companies who have received large contracts from Vietnam. Vessey was Clinton's man when Clinton pointed to Hanoi's cooperation. Key Money?

    Was Riady/Lippo money involved with all of the above points of contention? We've only begun to see the merest tip of the iceberg.

    In order to properly follow the money trail, you would have to involve yourself in the various business and non-profit play pens of Senators:

  • John Forbes Kerry (D-MA)
  • John Sydney McCain III (R-AZ)
  • Jesse Helms (R-NC)
  • Frank Murkowski (R-AK)

    You would have to view from where all their political contributions came from and then you would have to see the relationships connected to the companies that made the contributions. You would also have to look at the non-profits that these guys are into. And then you would have to see if any of them are linked in any way to Riady/Lippo. Not an easy feat.

    It does appear that the Red Chinese may be involved in shaping US Policy via the Riady/Lippo Group as well.
  • Columnist William Safire wrote in the January 2, 1997 edition of The New York Times, "You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to recognize that China needs not only to learn trade secrets, but also discover-and perhaps even influence-U.S. government trade policy and negotiating positions that directly effect the $35 billion balance-of-trade surplus essential to the growth of China's military and economic power."

    Let's not forget that China has virtually ignored US patents and trademarks in order to turn China's economy around.

  • November 10, 1996 issue of London's Sunday Times stated that the growing campaign funds controversy, " appears to have been a stunning intelligence coup by China."

    John Huang is Chinese born and was given top secret security clearance without undergoing normal background checks by the FBI and the State Departments Security Section as is standard operating procedure for granting top secrecy clearance to foreign nationals.

    Click here for more historical background on Huang/Riady/Lippo

    After Huang's stint at Commerce, he moved to the Democratic National Convention where he was named Vice Chairman for fund raising. Vice Chairman. A comfortably familiar term in communist Red China.

    Perhaps Commerce Secretary Brown was sacraficed to stem the wave which is only now unfolding. Afterall, what is the life of an American Commerce Secretary worth when foreign intelligence may be shaping America's Foreign Trade policies?


  • Melinda Yee, one of Brown's top aides, in a deposition of December 4, 1996 took responsiblity for destroying hand written notes and other subpeonaed records.

  • A Justice Dept. lawyer, representing Commerce, advised US District Court Magistrate Royce Lambert that commerce officials had requested the documents in question from yee's co-worker, but had never thought to request them from Yee. Yee's co-worker, the lawyer told Lambert, "had recently died."

  • Barbara Alice Wise, a secretary for 14 years at Commerce's International Trade Administration was found dead on November 29th in her 4th floor office. Her partially nude body was discovered on the floor of her office, behind a locked door, 5 days prior to Yee's deposition.

  • In addition to the death's of Brown, Wise and Yee's "co-worker", 13 other Commerce Department employees who worked for Brown on International Trade lost their lives in the April 1996 air crash that claimed the life of Brown.

    If that isn't enough to make Oliver Stone want to scream, "Action!", again, consider the mysterious Mohamed Samir Ferrat, an Algerian business associate of Secretary Brown.

    According to a CNN international report, Mohamed Samir Ferrat, an Algerian business associate of Secretary Brown, who was scheduled to accompany Brown on the Bosnian trip but withdrew at the last moment for reasons still unclear, died July 17, on the ill fated TWA Flight 800.

    Ferrat was initially treated by the FBI as a suspected terrorist in the TWA Flight 800 explosion because he was the sole passenger on the flight roster listed only by last name.

    The FBI, within hours of beginning their investigation of Ferrat, oddly withdrew, telling the New York Times that "Ferrat was not at all the kind of person to take a bomb on a plane. Nor was he a likely target of a bomb plot."

    U.S. government investigators have yet to determine whether missile, bomb or mechanical failure brought TWA 800 down, killing all 230 passengers and crew.

    "Ferrat, it turned out," the New York Times said, "was a wealthy and highly respected businessman, money manager and investor with offices and residences in the Ivory Coast, France and Switzerland . . . FBI agents learned all this without questioning Ferrat's family, friends or business associates, many of whom were gathered in their grief at the family hotel in Virginia."

    One source, who asked not to be identified, suggested the FBI cleared Ferrat quickly because they either learned of his connection to Secretary Brown or Ferrat may have been on the payroll of U.S. intelligence, possibly the CIA.

    Ferrat was also involved with Chadwick International Inc., a northern Virginia company that exports modular homes. Chadwick, Inc., founded in 1991, got its start, according to its chairman Ronald M. Nocera, by Ferrat arranging meetings with real estate contacts in Algeria. Nocera said Chadwick, Inc. currently holds or is negotiating deals worth $560 million with developers from Argentina to Vietnam.

    Economic Espionage?

    John Huang appears to have kept his Chinese Embassy ties while he worked as a Senior commerce Department official:

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- While he worked as a senior Commerce Department official, privy to classified trade briefings, John Huang regularly met and dined with Chinese Embassy officials who would have valued such information.

    When Huang left Commerce to begin a controversial stint as the Democrats' top fund-raiser among Asian-Americans, he kept his Chinese contacts. Several embassy and consular officials were listed on his Rolodex at Democratic National Committee headquarters.

    Some Republicans in Congress speak of ``potential economic espionage'' in questioning whether Huang had improper contact with Chinese officials or with his former employer, the Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group, which has business ties to China.

    Huang has denied wrongdoing. Telephone messages seeking comment from his attorneys, Ty Cobb and John C. Keeney Jr., were not returned.

    Records from a few days in October 1995 indicate the kind of activities congressional investigators are focusing on:

    Commerce telephone logs show Huang called Lippo Bank in Los Angeles on Oct. 10 and twice on Oct. 11. On that day, his expense report showed a $5 taxi ride to the Indonesian Embassy, apparently for a reception.

    The next day Huang, who was cleared for top secret official information, was scheduled to receive an intelligence briefing from the CIA's liaison to the Commerce Department, according to Commerce documents.

    On Oct. 12, the day of the classified briefing, Huang took a taxi ride from the residence of the Chinese ambassador back to his Commerce office. He called Lippo Bank two more times within the next seven days.

    Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y., has asked Commerce to explain why Huang went to the Indonesian Embassy and Chinese ambassador's residence. ``I am troubled'' by the expense reports, Solomon said.

    After leaving Commerce in December 1995 to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, Huang kept on hand the telephone numbers of at least 11 officials of the Chinese Embassy or consulates, as well as business cards of Chinese businessmen in mainland China.

    The Democratic Party eventually returned more than $1 million raised by Huang because it came from foreign sources or was otherwise inappropriate.

    A Justice Department investigation into improper fund raising reportedly is considering evidence that officials of the Chinese Embassy attempted to direct contributions to the Democrats. Embassy officials have dismissed such allegations as ``sheer fabrications.''

    Spokeswomen for both the Commerce Department and the Democratic National Committee said they haven't been able to determine why Huang would have been in contact with Chinese officials in either job, although they said they couldn't speculate about his social contacts.

    The Commerce Department's inspector general also is investigating Huang's activities.

    Huang, born in China and a former resident of Taiwan, became a U.S. citizen in 1976. During his year and a half in a senior-level post at Commerce, Huang's duties were mainly administrative, with some responsibility for assisting U.S. businesses in trade with Taiwan, agency officials said.

    Yet he had numerous contacts with Chinese officials.

    Huang's calendar, turned over to congressional investigators, listed a meeting with a delegation of officials from China in September 1995; a policy breakfast and at least two dinners at the Chinese Embassy; a meeting with Ambassador Li Daoyu; a reception at the embassy given by Li; and a meeting with China's deputy director for foreign economic relations.

    ``It would not necessarily have been illegitimate for him to have had such a contact or such a name in his Rolodex, but I can't speculate or even give an example that would provide context,'' said Anne Luzzatto, spokeswoman for the Commerce Department.

    ``A stray contact here or there with an official from another country (other than Taiwan) would not necessarily be inconsistent with his job here,'' she said.

    Huang also called Lippo Bank dozens of times during his tenure at Commerce. Last month, Rep. Solomon asked FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate Huang and his former employer, Lippo, for ``potential economic espionage against the United States by a foreign company with direct ties to the People's Republic of China.''

    Among his files at the DNC, released to congressional investigators, Huang kept a Rolodex card listing several consulate affairs officials at the Chinese Embassy and separate business cards for Chinese officials in Los Angeles and Chicago.

    See what else Huang kept as well as THE SENATE CONNECTION

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