After Campaign Donations, Richardson Admin. Gave Big Contract To Alleged Ponzi Schemer’s Firm

November 19, 2009 5:56 a.m.

An investment firm partly owned by Democratic mega-fundraiser and accused Ponzi schemer Hassan Nemazee was awarded a New Mexico state contract in 2007 after Nemazee and an associate contributed to Bill Richardon’s gubernatorial fund, according to an excellent Forbes story published this morning.

Nemazee, who was indicted in September on charges he bilked several banks out of $292 million, had a 24.9% stake in the investment firm, Carret Asset Management. In 2007 it won the contract to manage $200 million from the State Investment Council, the agency that controls oil and gas leasing fees. The firm has netted nearly $2 million on the deal.The year before, while Carret was gunning for the contract, Forbes reports, Nemazee gave $5,000 to Richardson, and a company of business partner Alan Quasha gave $20,000.

Richardson withdrew his nomination as Secretary of Commerce in January while he was under investigation as part of an unrelated pay-to-play probe involving a contract for a state transportation program. In August, authorities decided not to pursue charges against Richardson.

Quasha, an investor who has had his hand in many politically-connected companies, told Forbes that Nemazee hosted a 2008 fundraising dinner at his Upper East Side apartment for Richardson to help settle his presidential campaign debt.

Quasha also explicitly denied that there was any pay to play in the Carret deal.

Richardson’s office, for its part, told Forbes it had nothing to do with selecting Carret for the contract. So who did? Gary Bland, the top state investment official appointed by Richardson who himself resigned in October amid allegations of misconduct and a federal investigation.

Richardson is hardly the only big-name Democrat tied to Carret. The company reportedly gave Terry McAuliffe an office and a salary between his time as head of the Democratic Party and chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Read the whole Forbes piece here.

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