Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury and the U.S. government have reportedly agreed to settle a lawsuit over anonymous leaks that suggested that the tycoon was financing a terrorist organization.
During Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year, there were news reports in the LA Times that claimed Chagoury, a 71-year-old multimillionaire tycoon who has Nigerian and Lebanese citizenships, was denied a visa in 2015 because of allegations linking him to Hezbollah, an Islamist militant group. The claims were made based on information the FBI and other agencies provided the media outlet.
Subsequently, in September last year, Chagoury filed a lawsuit against the FBI and other agencies for damaging his reputation. Chagoury has visited the U.S. throughout the past 35 years and owns residential and commercial property there.
Under the deal, Chagoury will drop the lawsuit while the government will confirm that he’s never been on a U.S. sanctions list and that financial institutions are free to do business with him. In the settlement, which was filed with the court Friday and approved Sunday by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, the U.S. government also recognized that the anonymous leaks possibly violated both internal policies and federal law. The Justice Department however did not concede that any U.S. official broke the law.
“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,” the settlement declares.
In a press statement, Chagoury said he hopes the agreement will ameliorate some of the damages that the allegations caused his reputation and business interests in the United States and elsewhere around the world.
“As I have often said, I have loved America my whole life because it was the land of freedom and justice,” Chagoury said in a news release. “I am pleased that the U.S. 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.”
Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian, and his brother, Ronald Chagoury, are the founders of the Chagoury Group, one of the largest privately owned business groups in West Africa with tentacles in food & beverages, construction, haulage, hospitality and healthcare.
A spokesperson for Gilbert Chagoury was yet to respond to a request for comment at the time of publishing this post.