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KEY DEMOCRATIC DONOR IS ORDERED TO STAND TRIAL IN FRENCH BANK FRAUD

Oil industrialist Roger Tamraz, a key figure in a U.S. Democratic Party fund-raising scandal, has been ordered to stand trial in Paris, suspected of diverting more than $47 million from a now-defunct French bank.

The case against Tamraz was referred last month to a Paris criminal court for trial, according to a Sept. 12 order issued by French Investigating Magistrate Georges Maman and obtained by Reuters on Saturday.

The order, summarizing the findings of the magistrate's investigation, did not set a trial date. Tamraz, who wants to build a $2 billion oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, has acknowledged giving $300,000 to the Democratic Party.

He told a U.S. Senate committee last month that he had given the donation so he could gain access to President Clinton.

Tamraz was invited to six White House events and was able to discuss the pipeline with Clinton at one of these, despite a National Security Council memo recommending Tamraz be kept from senior U.S. officials due to his "shady and unsavory reputation."

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