"Those Ney gambling trips to London were a wondrous thing -- especially coming, as they did, immediately before and after the invasion of Iraq -- and have never been adequately explainedthnx starroute. If memory serves, one other story was that Ney was trying to get some export restrictions to Iran lifted so that they could buy some parts for their old, old planes so that they don't fall outta the sky.
For example, there's this:
Ney said on a travel disclosure form that the Feb. 20-23, 2003, trip to London was for "meetings regarding trade and international business matters."
Ney spokesman Brian Walsh told The Dispatch this year that Ney, who once taught English in Iran, is "very active in Middle East issues and certain countries in that region. (The trip) does have national security dimensions, and as much as (Ney) would like to, he will not say any more beyond that." . . .
Ney had dinner during the trip at a posh London casino with FN Aviation Director Nigel Winfield, a convicted felon whose offenses have included tax evasion, and Fouad al-Zayat, a Syrian-born businessman known as a high-stakes casino gambler. Walsh has said Ney did not know about Winfield’s background.
Ney returned to the same casino on a personal trip later in 2003 and reported on his financial disclosure form that he won $34,000. Walsh has said Ney parlayed a $100 bet into the large winning on two hands of a three-card game of chance. Questions arose over the FN Aviation trip when NBC News in May reported Winfield’s background and disclosed Zayat’s involvement with the company.
According to a recent NBC News investigation, in February 2003, Ney took a three-day trip to London. As revealed in disclosure reports filed by Ney’s office, the trip reportedly cost $2,707 and was paid for by FN Aviation. (This may have been a violation of House rules, which requires that travel paid for by corporate interests cover only “necessary expenses” and that the trip be “in connection with official duties.”)
FN Aviation’s director, Nigel Winfield, is “a three-time convicted felon who spent more than six years in prison … cheated on his taxes and was involved in a deal to swindle Elvis Presley.”
Winfield reportedly held discussions with Ney about a business venture to sell airplanes in the Middle East. Later on, Ney convened a meeting at a London casino with another FN Aviation director, “a Syrian-born businessman who happens to be ‘one of London’s biggest gamblers.’” That same year, Ney reported that he won $34,000 off a $100 bet from the very same London casino.
In 2002, Ney had reported at least $30,000 in credit card debt. In 2003, the debt had disappeared. Ney’s lawyer maintains that he won that money gambling on a separate trip to London, not the one involving FN Aviation. Ney’s lawyer refused to discuss the details of Ney’s trip abroad with NBC News because of “national security implications.”
At the table at Les Ambassadeurs were a Syrian-born businessman and multimillion-dollar gambler, known in London casinos as the Fat Man, and a former Florida airplane broker once convicted of income-tax evasion.
Joining them that night in February 2003 was a Republican congressman from rural eastern Ohio, Bob Ney. . . .
NBC and public records indicate that Zayat has been one of the executives associated with FN Aviation. Zayat lists his nationality as Portuguese and reports a Cyprus address. He was an FN director when he met Ney in 2003. Sara Fouad Zayat, who also lists her address as Cyprus and was described by people answering the phone at Mr. Zayat's offices as his daughter, is a current FN director, according to records.
The Sunday Times of London in 2002 reported that "Former business partners say he (Zayat) has acted as an intermediary in a series of contracts for the supply of defense-related equipment in Cyprus and the Middle East." The Sunday Times also reported that a London casino sued Zayat, alleging he paid $3.6 million in gambling debts with checks that bounced.
Winfield, according to NBC and British public records, also is a director of FN. He is a convicted felon who reportedly owned racehorses, played a role in a scheme to defraud Elvis Presley in a jet lease deal and might have been an FBI informant on mobsters, according to records and published reports.
In a telephone interview, Winfield told NBC News he wanted Ney's help selling planes in the Middle East.
"My only interest was trying to meet a congressman and see what we could do," says Winfield.
Here's some more on Zayat's gambling history:
Thursday, March 21, 2002
LONDON'S Ritz Casino has issued a writ against one of its biggest customers, a Syrian businessman who lives in Nicosia, for allegedly bouncing £2 million worth of cheques. Fouad al-Zayat, who according to Tuesday's Independent is a legend in the private clubs of Mayfair, has had his assets, which include a Boeing 747 and a £158,000 Rolls Royce, frozen by the High Court.
Court papers were served on al-Zayat at his apartment in the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. The Independent said he had gambled £21 million at the Ritz alone since he became a member in 1998. He visited the establishment 156 times between 1999 and 2001, losing nearly £10 million.
According to the writ, he gave the casino seven cheques in exchange for £2 million in chips. The Ritz says the cheques bounced and the casino obtained orders freezing al-Zayat's bank accounts in London, the Isle of Man, Geneva and Cyprus.
One casino director reportedly said of al-Zayat; "he has been known to spend £1 million comfortably in an evening. He is also a huge tipper and it's not unusual for him to tip £1,000 to a waitress who brings him his tea."
The newspaper quoted al-Zayat as saying: "This is the only sin I have. I have lost a lot of money. I know it's wrong to lose money like this but if you have ever been a casino you will understand what the atmosphere is like."
Zayat was also coming under scrutinyin Cyprus back in 1998:
DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides claimed yesterday he had further damaging allegations against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides concerning the "illegal release" of some 300 foreigners.
Pourgourides argued that just on these allegations alone - in which he has also implicated Interior Ministry Director- general Thanos Michael - Michaelides should resign without hesitation. . . .
Meanwhile lawyers representing Fouad Al Zayat have sent a letter to Pourgourides calling on him to withdraw allegations concerning their client. Al Zayat was described as a known arms dealer who had acquired Cypriot nationality and was seen wining and dining the minister.
The letter points out that Zayat is in no way involved in the sale of arms, is a Portuguese national and has a close friendship with Michaelides dating back to 1965.
Pourgourides is called on to clear Zayat's name from any suspicion of bribery and corruption, or legal proceedings will follow.
In other words, Ney seems to have been up to his neck in what may have been either a Middle Eastern arms deal (with money laundering on the side) or a high-level scam. Take your pick.
If all this is really about to come out, Ney probably really does have bigger troubles than that piddling Abramoff business. And if it isn't, I'd sure like to know why not."
meanwhile, Madsen is trying to spin some crazy shit that Ney was working with Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings.