Gilbert Chagoury | YouTube, Pierre Chelala

The Facts

  • Nigerian-born billionaire Gilbert Chagoury has agreed to voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit against the federal government for any role its agents may have had in publishing his nonpublic information, according to a court order dated 30 July that was filed in the the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
    • Chagoury filed a second amendment to his September 2016 lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, National Counterterrorism Center, Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and US Customs and Border Protection on 26 April.
  • The federal government admitted that Chagoury was never on a sanctions list blocking US individuals and entities from doing business with him, but did not admit any wrongdoing with regard to disclosure of Chagoury’s private information.
    • Chagoury has not been publicly accused of being a terrorist by the federal government.
    • His 2015 US visa denial, which prompted his lawsuit, however, still stands.
    • His complaint has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning he cannot file again for the same claim at a later date.
  • All parties stipulated to the following facts:
    • “The United States Treasury Department maintains a list of specially designated nationals (“SDN List”), which includes among others the names of persons whose assets are blocked and with whom U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from conducting business pursuant to Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001 (66 FR 49079, September 25, 2001);”
    • “Plaintiff Gilbert Chagoury does not now and has never appeared on the SDN List;”
    • “The United States Government has never specifically precluded financial institutions from transacting business with or on behalf of Gilbert Chagoury by means of the SDN List;”
    • “Unauthorized government disclosures, including of personally identifying information, may violate internal agency policies, as well as federal law under certain circumstances. Such disclosures may be subject to different types of punishment or disciplinary actions depending on the nature of the violation;”
    • “Nothing contained herein is to be construed as an admission of the allegations in the Second Amended Complaint, or of wrongdoing or liability by any party, such wrongdoing and liability being expressly denied, and no final adjudication having been made.”

The Context

  • Chagoury is a Nigerian-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist who has donated to the William J. Clinton Foundation (“Clinton Foundation”).
    • Chagoury’s total donations to the Clinton Foundation fall into the $1-5 million range, according to the foundation’s website.
  • Chagoury released the following statement, according to Forbes magazine:

“As I have often said, I have loved America my whole life because it was the land of freedom and justice. I am pleased that the US Government has officially recognized that I am not and have never been on the SDN list, and that this matter that began due to someone spreading false and injurious information about me is finally closed.”

  • His initial complaint alleged that news reports that he was denied a US Visa in 2015 because of his supposed ties to terrorism were the product of leaked information by the federal government, in violation of the Privacy Act.
    • Chagoury has denied any ties to terrorist activities.
    • His initial complaint read in part:
      • “Notwithstanding his exceptional record of public service and demonstrated commitment to core American values such as religious freedom, Gilbert Chagoury was denied a visa by the United States Department of State (“State Department”). Gilbert Chagoury believes that this decision was based on false information. On information and belief, the State Department, or possibly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Department of Justice (“DOJ”), National Counter Terrorism Center (“NCTC”), Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), or the United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), compounded this injustice by leaking information about the denial of Gilbert Chagoury’s visa application, including the false information that reportedly led to the visa denial, without seeking or obtaining his consent, to Joe Tanfani, a reporter at the Los Angeles Times (“LA Times”).
      • “The Government’s deliberate, outrageous and unlawful leak of information and more importantly, misinformation about Gilbert Chagoury violated the Privacy Act and the Judicial Redress Act.”
      • “The Government’s intentional leak of misinformation about Gilbert Chagoury triggered the obviously foreseeable and inevitable consequence of banks refusing to conduct business with him or those acting on his behalf, depriving him of property interests in violation of his Constitutional right to due process.”
  • The Los Angeles Times article the complaint refers to can be read here.

Stephanie Haney contributed to this report. 

The Whim News Team

The Whim News Desk

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