Seeking to unravel the mystery of Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, an FBI agent testified Tuesday that the fund-raiser tried to make money off his friendship with President Clinton and used Asian funds wired to him for six-figure donations to the Democratic Party.
Two women who were granted immunity from prosecution also told senators they were reimbursed by Trie after signing blank checks that were used to make Democratic donations in their name.
Jerry Campane, an FBI agent detailed to the Senate fund-raising investigation, portrayed Trie as a hustling but inept businessman who was far more adept at using foreign money to generate political contributions than in making profits.
Campane told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee he was unable to answer the question that senators are dying to know: whether China was the source of overseas funds, carefully laundered through Trie’s numerous U.S. bank accounts and then contributed to the Democratic Party.
The agent said it was certain - “a slam dunk” - that Trie used foreign wire transfers to pay for $220,000 in donations made by Trie and his wife. Other Asian funds were used to reimburse donations made by associates.
And when Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., asked whether Trie had laundered money, an illegal act, Campane offered an opinion that some Democrats criticized as going too far.
“Yes, in my opinion he did,” the agent said. “In my professional opinion, there is no question that this was clearly a foreign source and an intentional use of the foreign source money.”
The senators also heard from two suburban Washington women, who testified under grants of immunity from prosecution that they were reimbursed after their checks were used for contributions to the Democratic National Committee.
Yue Chu, whose husband worked for Trie’s overseas business partner, said she was asked by her husband to help his boss, Ng Lap Seng. She said she was told the boss, a Macao businessman, wanted “to come visit the White House … to buy a ticket to pass the gate.”
Senate investigators learned that the checks, written on the accounts of Chu and Xiping Wang, were not for entry to the White House but for tickets to a fund-raiser at a Washington hotel that featured Clinton.