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Report: Meeting Between Clinton, Rich Backers Pardon Probe's Focus

A secret airport meeting between a prominent Democratic fund-raiser and a backer of fugitive financier Marc Rich has gained the attention of prosecutors investigating President Clinton's pardons, according to a Newsweek report.

The magazine said that Beth Dozoretz met with Avner Azulay, the former Israeli Mossad agent who was spearheading Rich's pardon effort, but that she did not report the encounter to Rich's chief pardon lawyer, Jack Quinn.

Dozoretz, a close Clinton friend and former finance director of the Democratic National Committee, appeared twice before the New York grand jury investigating the pardon Clinton granted to Rich just before he left the White House. However, when prosecutors asked her recently to appear for a third time she balked, sources told Newsweek. Her lawyer told the magazine she will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Dozoretz had pledged to raise $1 million for Clinton's presidential library, suggesting to prosecutors that she may have discussed such donations with Azulay at their meeting.

But Dozoretz's lawyer, Tom Green, called that "pure nonsense" and accused prosecutors of harassing Dozoretz.

Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, contributed $450,000 to the library foundation, $1.1 million to the Democratic Party and at least $109,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign.

Lawyers representing Dozoretz and Rich could not be reached by telephone for comment Sunday.

Bill Clinton drew a firestorm of criticism after he pardoned Rich, a billionaire who has lived in Switzerland since just before he was indicted in 1983 on charges of tax evasion, fraud and making illegal oil deals with Iran.

Denise Rich has strongly denied allegations that the pardon was tied to her contributions. The pardon was among 176 pardons and clemencies Clinton issued on his last day in office.