Business & Lobbying

Ex-Clinton aide wins court ruling against African country

A U.S. court has ruled that the Republic of Equatorial Guinea must pay Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Clinton, more than $158,000.

In an opinion signed Monday, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras awarded the sum to his firm, Lanny J. Davis & Associates, for his “unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses” owed by the tiny African country.

In 2010, Davis entered into a joint contract with his then-law firm McDermott Will & Emery to represent Equatorial Guinea. Under the more than $2 million contract, Davis and others were to embark on “a comprehensive reform program” for the oil-rich nation, according to Justice records

Davis is a columnist for The Hill newspaper.

Equatorial Guinea has not been a shining beacon of democracy.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo seized power in 1979 through a military coup. The country has been beset by allegations of human rights violations, and Obiang’s son was the subject of a probe by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for moving millions of dollars through the United States.

{mosads}In October 2011, Davis filed a complaint against the country for breaching their contract by not paying back his expenses. Davis noted that he traveled several times to Africa, wrote a speech for Obiang and worked with senior State Department officials and the U.S. ambassador to Equatorial Guinea on behalf of the country.

Equatorial Guinea did not respond to Davis’s complaint in court.

Mark Zaid, an attorney representing Davis, said the large sum of money awarded is to pay back Davis for expenses he accrued while representing Equatorial Guinea that the country didn’t reimburse.

“This will cover out-of-pocket expenses that Lanny spent while representing Equatorial Guinea and trying to bring them into law and democracy, for things like airfare and other travel expenses. It also covers interest on the underlying debt for the past two years from the unpaid bills,” Zaid said.

Davis came under criticism for representing Equatorial Guinea, but Zaid said Davis was working to reform the country.

“He [Davis] was hired to persuade the country to act more democratic, to open up its relations with the United States. The job was to bring established democracy to the people of Equatorial Guinea. Unfortunately, the country not only turned its back on that effort but stiffed Lanny in the process for those out-of-pocket expenses,” Zaid said.

Zaid said they will pursue the country’s assets here in the United States in order to recoup Davis’s expenses.

“We will be going around the country and trying grab Equatorial Guinea’s assets here in the United States to pay back this judgment. Eventually, we will get it,” Zaid said.

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