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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 11:32 GMT
Carter blasts Rich pardon
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, left, and Bill Clinton
Mr Carter came down hard on his successor
Former US President Jimmy Carter has said Bill Clinton's pardon of a controversial financier brought disgrace on the White House.

Speaking at a university in his home state of Georgia, Mr Carter said he believed that Mr Clinton had been influenced by contributions from the financier Marc Rich's former wife.

I don't think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to his large gifts

Jimmy Carter
Mr Clinton has denied that allegation, but the US Senate and federal prosecutors are carrying out two separate investigations into the pardon.

Meanwhile, Mr Rich has agreed to sell his commodities trading business, Marc Rich Investment (MRI), to a Russian-owned energy trading group.

Mr Rich's holding company agreed to sell its stake in MRI for an undisclosed sum amid speculation that the 66-year-old is either considering retirement or that MRI is underperforming.

'No doubt' of dirty deal

Mr Carter, a born-again Christian known for his moral rectitude, said he thought there was "no doubt" that Mr Clinton's pardon of Mr Rich was partly "attributable to his large gifts".

"In my opinion, that was disgraceful," he said, describing it as one of Mr Clinton's "most serious mistakes".

Marc Rich
Mr Rich fled the US in 1983
Mr Rich's former wife, Denise, is a major contributor to Mr Clinton's Democratic party and to the Clintons personally.

Writing in the New York Times newspaper on Sunday, Mr Clinton insisted that "there was absolutely no quid pro quo".

"The suggestion that I granted the pardons because Mr Rich's former wife, Denise, made political contributions and contributed to the Clinton library foundation is utterly false," he wrote.

Multiple charges

Bill and Hillary Clinton
Mr Rich's ex-wife gave money to the Clintons' campaigns
Mr Rich faced more than 50 counts of tax evasion, fraud and racketeering connected with purchases of oil from Iran, in violation of a US embargo.

Mr Carter, who was elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal on a promise "never to lie" to the American people, said he had "never pardoned anyone whose pardon was not recommended to me after a complete investigation by the Justice Department".

He recently told the BBC that he had forgiven Mr Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky affair.

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See also:

18 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton defends controversial pardon
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton faces criminal inquiry
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Q&A: Clinton pardon row
14 Feb 01 | Americas
Senate probes Clinton pardons
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton gifts under scrutiny
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