Whitewater boss clears Clinton: Former business partner denies financial improprieties

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ARKADELPHIA - The former developer at the heart of the Whitewater controversy says he plans to exonerate President Clinton 'totally and absolutely' of any wrongdoing in the 16-year-old land deal.

James McDougal declined to extend his promise of vindication to Hillary Clinton, who, he pointed out, handled all of the family's finances. Referring to differences he had had with the First Lady over the years, he said 'anytime Miss Hillary doesn't get her way, it makes her furious'.

Speaking at his mobile home in this town 60 miles (95km) south- west of Little Rock, Mr McDougal disputed the amount of money the Clintons lost in the Whitewater land deal. He said they suffered dollars 13,500 ( pounds 9,000) in losses, at most, not the dollars 69,500 they have claimed. If their tax statements were wrong, he said, he blamed Mrs Clinton because 'I know more Hebrew, Greek and Latin than Bill Clinton knows about business procedure.'

Mr McDougal, who made and lost millions of dollars in banking and property deals, said he planned to hold a press conference in two weeks which would clear up the Whitewater matter.

With the Clintons, Mr McDougal and his former wife, Susan, bought 200 acres of riverfront property in the Ozark mountains in 1978 for sale as sites for summer homes. Sixteen years later the Clintons find themselves fending off accusations of an improper relationship with Mr McDougal.

It is alleged, among other things, that Mr Clinton, as Governor of Arkansas, put pressure on Mr McDougal to give Mrs Clinton's law firm a monthly dollars 2,000 retainer for doing legal work for his embattled bank, Madison Guaranty, and that some of the bank's money found its way into the Whitewater account. 'Bill Clinton is not guilty of any illegal, immoral, unethical, dishonest or dishonourable action in regard to Whitewater or in anything else that I know about,' Mr McDougal said.

'There is nothing wrong with Whitewater and nothing in it to embarrass the President.' He denied that money from his bank was improperly put into the Whitewater account. He also disputed accounts that Mr Clinton had put pressure on him to give his wife legal work, saying that he casually offered to do so one morning in 1986 when the Governor jogged over to his Little Rock home.

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