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Campaign Finance Key Player:
Yah Lin 'Charlie' Trie

This profile was compiled from Washington Post and washingtonpost.com staff reports. Click on linked names to read other profiles, or see the full list of key players.

From The Post:
Trie Enters Plea of Not Guilty, Feb. 6, 1998
Fund-Raiser Surrenders to FBI, Feb. 4, 1998
Indictment Secured in Fund Probe, Jan. 29, 1998
The Curious Cast of Asian Donors, Jan. 27, 1997
• See Charles Trie's entry in our White House coffee database.
Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie was indicted by a federal grand jury in January in connection with allegations that he engaged in a "straw donor" scheme, collecting money from foreign businessmen not eligible to contribute to U.S. political campaigns and then distributing the money to U.S. citizens.

Trie, who left the country in late 1996 and was believed to be residing primarily in China, returned to the United States on Feb. 3 and was taken into custody by the FBI.

Information released by the Democratic National Committee showed that three fund-raisers – Trie, John Huang and Johnny Chung, were responsible for raising $2.2 million – or 79 percent – of the $2.8 million in questionable or illegal contributions returned this year.

Trie became friendly with Clinton in Little Rock, where he ran a Chinese restaurant that Clinton visited frequently.

According to the FBI, Trie opened an import-export business in 1990. It failed to make any money, so Trie decided to move to Washington in 1994, where he opened an office in the Watergate complex and became a Democratic fund-raiser and man about town.

Also in 1994, Trie became business partners with Macao businessman Ng Lap Seng, and encouraged him to donate to the Democrats.

Trie's businesses also received more than $1.4 million in foreign wire transfers, much of it from Ng.

Trie arranged for Wang Jun, chairman of a Chinese arms-trading company, to be invited to a White House coffee.

In March 1996, Trie turned over two manila envelopes containing checks and money orders for more than $450,000 to a defense fund set up to help the Clintons pay their legal bills. The fund returned about $70,000 of this immediately, but deposited $378,300. Two months later, after the fund ordered an investigation, the rest of the money also was returned. The investigation found that some of the money came from sequentially numbered money orders, supposedly from different people in different cities, but all apparently signed in the same handwriting.

Last updated March 4, 1998

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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