The Enterprise Report has learned that Gilbert Chagoury, a controversial wealthy Nigerian businessman and major financial supporter of former President Bill Clinton was the host of a private cocktail party in a Beverly Hills home in July of 2009 that current Obama administration Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood and his wife attended as invited guests.
Chagoury has come under recent scrutiny after being stopped last month on his way out of the United States on his private jet and questioned by the FBI after his name turned up on two anti-terror security watch lists.DOT Secretary Lahood and his wife were at the cocktail reception with Chagoury along with top Vatican official Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and other members of a Lebanese Christian religious group known as the National Apostolate of Marionites (NAM). Chagoury, Lahood and others were in attendance at NAM's national convention which took July 1-5, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Also in attendance at the convention were other notables including Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney and Carlos Slim Helu, currently the richest man in the world.
Chagoury was questioned this past February by U.S. law enforcement authorities for being on the U.S 'No Fly List' and another U.S. anti-terror watch list. The story of Chougory's run-in with U.S. law enforcement was first reported by ABCNews via its online new site 'The Blotter'. The FBI questioned Chargoury and detained him for hours, before letting him proceed on his private jet and fly out of the U.S. In a second story earlier this week ABCNews reported how Chagoury's extensive flights in the U.S. highlighted a loophole which allowed potential terror suspects to bypass screening before entering the U.S
Video of Secretary Lahood at the 2009 NAM convention in Los Angeles can be seen below.
Long before Chagoury surfaced on the radar of U.S. authorities his jet setting ways had seemingly escaped the attention of U.S. law enforcement for months.
Prior to being stopped in February Chagoury's sleek Bermuda registered multimillion dollar Falcon jet had criss-crossed the U.S. on multiple flights and had been in the country for months since coming to Los Angeles from Paris in late December of 2009. You can see the flight details of Chagoury's jet since December 2009 below:
Chagoury has refused to comment on his detention in New Jersey last month. The FBI and others U.S. agencies involved have also declined to discuss details of his case. When or why Chagoury was first placed on the U.S. 'No-Fly' list, or if he is slill on the list today is not known. U.S. officials do not publicly discuss specifics on who is or is not on any anti-terror watch list.
The Enterprise Report sought comment from the DOT and Secretary Lahood's office about his knowledge of Chagoury's background and his participation in the cocktail party and the NAM convention. TER also submitted questions to the DOT regarding security procedures undertaken concerning the Secretary's associations. We did not receive a response prior to publication.