Firm Reportedly Cancels Clinton Speech Talks

Reuters - February 14, 2001

The financial firm UBS Warburg of London, fearing it would be drawn into controversies surrounding former President Clinton, has canceled talks to hire him for a speech, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper cited people involved in the negotiations as saying that the large fees involved -- Clinton reportedly commands $100,000 per speech -- would create an appearance of impropriety because a senior UBS executive wrote a letter urging Clinton to pardon billionaire fugitive financier Marc Rich.

Congress is investigating Clinton's pardon of Rich, whose ex-wife Denise Rich contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party. Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the pardon granted on Jan. 20, Clinton's last day in office.

Clinton's post-presidency has turned into a debacle over the pardon, the embarrassing return of White House furniture, plans for an ostentatious Manhattan penthouse office that he was forced to scrap and an ill-starred corporate speech in Florida.

The New York Times report said UBS Warburg, parent company of the U.S. investment firm Paine Webber, decided that a speech by Clinton at an investment banking conference in New York in April "wasn't in the best interests of the firm."

Pierre de Weck, a Zurich-based UBS executive, wrote to Clinton on Dec. 4 about Rich, the newspaper reported. It said de Weck described Rich, who has lived as a fugitive in Switzerland for 17 years, as "an honest, upright citizen who has also been very charitable." UBS was formerly known as the Union Bank of Switzerland.

An Apology Over Clinton

Already one company that Clinton spoke to has apologized to its clients.

The major investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. apologized to people who were upset after he spoke at a company event in Florida this month.

The clients objected to Clinton because of the Rich pardon and because of the former president's behavior while in office -- he was impeached by the House of Representatives for obstruction of justice over an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky but acquitted by the Senate.

But other speeches are planned.

Monday, Oracle Corp. said Clinton would deliver the keynote address to e-business leaders on the opening day of Oracle AppsWorld in New Orleans Feb. 19. Clinton was also scheduled to speak about the role of the media in a democracy at a conference on Feb. 27, hosted by Credit Suisse First Boston and the entertainment daily Variety.

CSFB is a unit of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse Group Inc.

The New York Times said a Clinton speech March 26 at publicly funded Salem State College in Massachusetts had created a partisan controversy there with Republicans insisting that no public money be used to pay Clinton.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page