Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown, through his attorney, acknowledged for the first time Monday that he met three times in the last year with a Vietnamese businessman, whose dealings with Brown are now under scrutiny by a federal grand jury in Florida.
Attorney Reid Weingarten said Brown met with Nguyen Van Hao, a former Vietnamese government official now living in Coral Springs, Fla., but never discussed or received a $700,000 payment for working to lift the trade embargo against Vietnam, as alleged by Ly Thanh Binh, a business associate of Hao’s.
A federal grand jury in Miami is looking into Binh’s allegations that Brown agreed to work toward lifting the trade ban in exchange for business concessions and $700,000 in a Singapore bank account. Brown has not been called before the grand jury, according to Weingarten.
Brown has denied “any kind of business relationship, any kind of financial relationship, any kind of relationship of any kind” on the Vietnamese trade issue.