Hassan Nemazee (born January 27, 1950) is a multimillionaire Iranian-American investment banker and convicted felon.
Top Democrat moneyman
On August 25th 2009, Hassan Nemazee, a top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, was arrested and charged with forging loan documents in order to borrow $74 million from Citibank. He could face up to 30 years in prison.
Hassan Nemazee, who served as a finance director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, began raising sizable sums for the Democratic National Committee in the mid-nineties. In 1998, in the midst of the Lewinsky affair, Nemazee collected $60,000 for Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund in $10,000 increments from relatives and friends.
The following year, President Clinton nominated the money manager and investor to be ambassador to Argentina. Then an article in Forbes raised questions about his business practices. Among other things, Nemazee, an Iranian-American, had magically turned himself into an “Hispanic” by acquiring Venezuelan citizenship in order to fulfill the minority-ownership requirement of a California public pension fund. The nomination was withdrawn.
That embarrassment did not, however, hamper Nemazee’s rise within the Democratic Party. By 2004 he was New York finance chair for John Kerry’s campaign, and in 2006 he served under Senator Chuck Schumer as the national finance chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). During this period the committee raised about $25 million more than its Republican counterpart.
By 2008, Nemazee was one of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, and was being publicly touted as a top foreign policy adviser. When another major fundraiser, a clothing manufacturer named Norman Hsu, was arrested and unmasked as a swindler, it was Nemazee who was trotted out to defend Ms. Clinton and argue that she knew little about Hsu.
But she should have known plenty about Nemazee. In 2005, Nemazee and his business partner, Alan Quasha, went deep into the Clinton circle to hire Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton confidante and former chairman of the Democratic Party, for Carret Asset Management, their newly acquired investment firm. During the interregnum between McAuliffe’s party chairmanship and the time he officially joined Hillary Clinton’s campaign as chairman, Nemazee and Quasha set McAuliffe up with a salary and opened a Washington office for him. There he worked on his memoirs and laid the groundwork for Ms. Clinton’s presidential bid.
In March 2007, Nemazee, at the behest of McAuliffe, threw a dinner for Ms. Clinton at Manhattan’s swank Cipriani restaurant, which featured Bill Clinton and raised more than $500,000. In 2008, after Barack Obama gained the nomination, Nemazee raised a comparable sum for him.
But it is not fair to characterize Nemazee as an embarrassment to Democrats alone. Nemazee’s profile is considerably more complicated. For legal representation in his current troubles, for example, Nemazee has retained Marc Mukasey, a partner in Rudolph Giuliani’s law firm and the son of Michael Mukasey, who served as George W. Bush’s last Attorney General.
Before moving into the Democratic camp, Nemazee had backed such Republican senators as Jesse Helms, Sam Brownback and Alfonse D’Amato. Nemazee’s business partner, Alan Quasha, who specializes in buying up troubled companies, has also played both sides of the partisan divide. Quasha gave to both Bush and Al Gore in 2000, and in the 2008 race gave to Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani as well as Democrats Barack Obama and Chris Dodd.
Nemazee’s role as a foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton can be better understood through his own Iranian connections. His father was a shipping magnate who was close with the Shah of Iran and served as the Shah’s commercial attaché in Washington; Nemazee was a founding member of the Iranian American Political Action Committee, a lobbying group. Recent strains have been reported between President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over policy toward Iran. Clinton has advocated a harder line toward the Islamic fundamentalists who took over when the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, while Obama has stressed dialogue.