Australian governments’ $85 million aid to the Clinton Foundation is a bit surprising, given that ex-President Bill and presidential candidate Hillary are synonyms for financial and personal sleaze. That total sum was paid by both Coalition and Labor governments over the past decade. Coalition and Labor have also despatched and committed $460m to the Clinton-affiliated Global Partnership for Education, chaired by our ex-PM Julia Gillard. Abbott’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop threw Gillard’s show a lazy $140 million of taxpayer money in 2014, no questions asked. That aid was in the teeth of Gillard’s lusty presidential campaigning for Hillary against Trump.
Ostensibly charitable, the Clinton Foundation is the centerpiece of the couple’s amassing of a vast personal fortune. Bill was president from 1993-01. Hillary was Secretary of State for Obama from 2009-13.
In Hillary’s term at State, every variety of wealthy crook, influence-seeker and tyrannical government rushed to “donate” millions to the Clinton Foundation, its spin-offs, Bill Clinton personally or vague combinations of all/any of them. Lots of those crooked donors later scored disgrace, convictions and/or gaol on unrelated matters. Amid the sleaze, of course, the Clinton Foundation did manage to do some genuine charity work.
The Australian’s Greg Sheridan reported last February that the Coalition and Labor governments aided the Clinton foundations by more than $75 million in the past decade. The aid was via partnerships with the Clintons’ outfit as ‘technical implementing partner’. There are still three deals involving the foundations aiding Indonesia, PNG and Vietnam. Australia appears to be the biggest single foreign-government source of Clinton Foundation funds, he said. Annual aid has ranged from $6.5 million to a peak $10.3 million in 2012-13, the final Labor year.
However, Sheridan and/or his US source overlooked $10 million in a direct donation by a Rudd government entity to the Clinton Foundation in 2009-10. Rudd in 2008 set up the Global CCS Institute for research into carbon capture and storage with $100 million of taxpayer money. “The Institute provided AU$10 million to the Clinton Foundation to support the work being conducted through the Clinton Climate Initiative to accelerate key ‘early mover’ CCS projects around the world,” the Institute said.
According to the ABC, Rudd’s little venture actually involved a further commitment of $215m, at the rate of $100m a year. Other countries were supposed to tip in money too but by 2012 that amounted to a tiny $4.5m from the US and EU. The Institute itself had no idea what to spend its money on, actually complaining to the ABC that “the Rudd Government funding was too much, too soon.” After two years, Rudd’s institute had spent $7.4 million on travel and meetings, $11.3 million on contractors and consultants, and almost $6 million on administration. It had donated only $37m to carbon capture projects around the world but had $145m sitting idle in the bank. The $10 million thrown to the Clinton Foundation appears to be part of the institute’s desperate attempts to spend its piggy bank. Carbon capture of course has proved to be a total turkey.
Part 1: Cheque Mates: Gillard, Bishop & Hillary
Rudd’s prodigious waste of public funds is a story for another day. Let’s get back to Bill and Hillary.
There are tough US laws against bribery. But there is no law against giving millions to the “charitable” causes of an ex-President, who just happens to be first-spouse to the Secretary of State and always tipped as a President-In-Waiting. You might want Bill to give a speech to your organization or add lustre to your daughter’s society wedding. Bill’s token fee is typically $US200,000 or so.
In August 2013 even the left-leaning New York Times ran an expose of the Clinton Foundation:
“For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.” With Hillary and daughter Chelsea now running it, “efforts to insulate the foundation from potential conflicts have highlighted just how difficult it can be to disentangle the Clintons’ charity work from Mr Clinton’s moneymaking ventures and Mrs Clinton’s political future.”
The stakes were high for smooching up to Secretary of State Hillary by tipping a few million into Bill’s foundations or pocket. During Hillary’s term as Secretary, the State Department authorized $US165 billion in commercial arms sales to 20 nations that had donated to the Clinton Foundation. They included Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Algeria, Kuwait and UAE, whose human-rights records had all been slated by the State Department itself. There was another $US151b of military-authorised arms sales to 16 nations that donated to the Clinton Foundation which needed Hillary’s official sign-off.
The Clinton’s ‘charity’ spending used the term loosely. In 2009, the so-called charity Clinton Global Initiative bought actress Natalie Portman (Star Wars, Black Swan) a first-class ticket for herself and her Yorkshire terrier to attend its conference at Texas University, Austin.
The Clinton Foundation spent $US12 million on air travel in 2011 alone, with Bill Clinton personally racking up a million dollars of that sum. If used for normal travel, the $US12 million could have financed 33 trips a day that year. Travel costs for the decade to 2013 came to $US50 million.
Multi-million donors to the Clinton Foundation include Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia ($US10 million plus). Individual seven-figure donors include Issam Fares, former deputy-PM of Lebanon and supporter of Hezbollah and Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Bill Clinton was personally paid at least $US26 million in speaking fees by entities that were also Foundation donors, according to the Washington Post. This suggests how closely Clinton money and Foundation money intertwined.
The Clintons departed the White House in 2001 self-professedly broke. That was largely because of $US10 million or so in legal bills fighting earlier scandals (Whitewater, Lewinsky, etc) and paying off Clinton’s female victims (e.g. $US850,000 to harassee Paula Jones). Their earnings from speeches, books, consulting and whatever in the next 14 years raked in $US230 million-plus. Bill was asked two years ago about being paid up to half a million for speeches for companies and trade associations that were also lobbying the State Department while Hillary was Secretary of State. That total was $US2.5 million. He replied, “I gotta pay our bills. I spend a couple of hours a day just doing the research. People like to hear me speak.”
US documents show that BHP-Billiton paid Bill Clinton $US175,000 to address the board in Australia on June 20, 2012. At the time BHP-Billiton was lobbying the State Department about “mining interests in Gabon”. In previous months, Gabon had been considering switching control of its largest iron ore deposit, Belinga, from a Chinese company, CMEC, to BHP-Billiton. Belinga, near the Congo border, was a potential 30-million tonne per annum mine and 500km railway/port project. A political problem was that Belinga is inside Gabon’s Ivindo National Park, home to rainforest gorillas and chimpanzees. Whatever hopes BHP-Billiton may have had from Clinton’s influence, they came to nought. (Or maybe BHP-Billiton regularly pays celebs $US175,000 to address the board. If so, I’m available at short notice). Amid corporate belt-tightening, BHP-Billiton pulled out of Gabon altogether in 2013.
The Clinton Foundation began modestly in 1997 to fund the President Clinton Memorial Library. But Bill became a global brand while his Foundation adopted whatever charitable cause was fashionable at the moment. Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel combed the Foundation’s reports and concluded that Bill Clinton had “developed a methodology of exploiting epidemics and natural disasters to raise hundred of millions in ‘charitable donations’ that in a relaxed regulatory environment could be diverted to personal gain, funding Hillary’s political campaigns and supporting Democratic Party causes.”
Ortel noted that substantial funds went missing from the Clinton charitable funds donated for the earthquake relief in India. Total Clinton Foundation fraud runs to hundreds of millions of dollars, he said, “with diversions for political purposes and personal enrichment likely to exceed $US200 million.” Ortel also cited the American India Foundation as “a false front that attracts donations, allows unknown sums to be diverted and then manufactures deductions for cronies.”
Case studies of crooks smooching the Clintons could fill a book – indeed have filled two books. One is Partners in Crime: The Clintons’ Scheme to Monetize the White House for Personal Profit by two-times New York Times No 1 best-selling author Jerome Corsi. (Corsi is an anti-Democrat gadfly but Clinton scandals surface regularly by the liberal US media as well). Corsi says the vast sums donated to the Foundation to help earthquake victims in India and Haiti and HIV/AIDs sufferers, mostly enriched the Clintons. The donations also added $US 2b to the Clinton Foundation and raised $US 1b for Hillary’s second run for the presidency. He says some of the funds paid off those with first-hand knowledge of Bill’s long history of errant sexual behavior. Bill Clinton also secretly established ‘pass-through’ bank accounts to hide kickbacks from Clinton Foundation donors and sponsors that only enrich the Clintons themselves.
The latest book is Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweitzer, which unfortunately, with its 635 end-notes, is not Kindle-ready until late this week. But you don’t need books. Seeking out Clinton sleaze is to be buried by an avalanche. A few samples:
- In 2013 Canadian Uranium One executives were trying to sell off their US uranium projects to Russian interests. While successfully lobbying the State Department for permission, during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State, they donated $US2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, which the Foundation failed to disclose. Bill Clinton also picked up a $US500,000 speaking fee in Moscow – one of his highest — from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
- The US-approved uranium deal gave the Russians a fifth of US uranium capacity, under their Rosatom masthead. Hillary had earlier pledged to notify Obama about all donors to the Foundation but the uranium-interest donations only came to light through a Reuters reporter’s discovery. The Clintons then had to re-file five years of tax returns on how they were reporting donations.[i]
- Gulnara Karimova, eldest daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, co-sponsored a June, 2012, Clinton Foundation fundraiser in Monaco. A US Embassy cable from Tashkent remarked that she was “hoping that a connection with him will allow her to establish good relations with the Secretary of State” — who was Hillary Clinton. The embassy explained, “Most Uzbeks see Karimova as a greedy, power-hungry individual who uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way . . . She remains the single most hated person in the country.”
- Another Bill Clinton pal and donor (up to $US500,000) was Rajat Gupta, who also gave Bill’s daughter, Chelsea, a six-figure consulting job, despite her tender years (23) and inexperience. Rajat in 2012 got two years gaol for insider trading.
Rajat and Vinod Gupta had collaborated to form the Bill Clinton-chaired America-India Foundation for earthquake relief, supposedly to raise $US50m for re-building 100 villages.
Vinod was CEO of data-base company InfoUSA, which paid Clinton $US3 million as an adviser in 2001. Clinton collected another $US3.3 million from 2002-08 for advising Vinod, who also gave the Clinton family free personal use of his fleet of corporate jets. Alas, Vinod was charged by the SEC in 2008 with misappropriating $US9.5 million from InfoUSA to fund his own lavish lifestyle, including 20 cars. He settled with the SEC for $US7.3 million. InfoUSA shareholders resented Gupta’s use of their money to brown-nose Clinton, and the company had to settle with them as well, for $US13 million.
- June, 2015: Britain’s Serious Fraud Office accused Clinton Foundation ex-trustee Victor Dahdeleh of paying Bahreini officials UKP25m to win sales contracts for Alcoa US. Dahdaleh was jailed twice pre-trial but ultimately acquitted. Alcoa pleaded guilty to the affair and settled with the Justice Department for $US384 million.
- Sikh hotelier Sant Chatwal was another Foundation ex-trustee, Hillary campaign supporter, multi-million donor to the Foundation, and multi-million hirer of the Clintons for speaking engagements. In 2001 he was arrested for allegedly defrauding the Bank of India of USD9 million, posted bail and fled to Vienna. In 2014 he pleaded guilty in the US to conspiracy, witness tampering, and having “funneled more than $US180,000 in illegal contributions between 2007 and 2011 to three federal candidates,” including Hillary. He got three years’ probation, a $US500,000 fine, and 1,000 hours of community service.
- Sant’s son, Vikram, known as the “Turban Cowboy”, had Bill Clinton as star guest at his 2006 wedding in India. Vikram helped marshall donations for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2013 Vikram was arrested at Fort Lauderdale airport with a half gram of cocaine and six grams of heroin in his underwear. He avoided jail by completing a one-year drug rehabilitation program.
- Indian legislator Amar Singh was at the head table at a Clinton Global Initiative gala in 2005, then dined with the Clintons at their home. He donated as much as $US 5million to the Clinton Foundation, a large slice of his net worth (perhaps more than 100%). In 2011 Singh was arrested for allegedly bribing three Indian MPs during a crucial vote on a US-India nuclear agreement. He was never tried but was expelled from his party.
- Claudio Osorio, a Florida builder, was a big backer of Hillary’s 2008 campaign and of the Clinton Global Initiative. While Hillary was Secretary of State he scored a $US10 million federal loan to build 500 homes in Haiti, but was convicted of pocketing the money instead, and got 12 years jail.
- Gilbert Chagoury, front-man of late Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha, was accused by a Nigerian prosecutor of funneling more than $US4 billion from Nigeria to offshore bank accounts. He was at the Clinton’s 1996 White House Christmas Party but in 2000 was convicted by the Swiss of assisting in billion-dollar money laundering of stolen Nigerian funds. The Clinton Foundation accepted at least $US1m from him along with a pledge in 2009 for $US100 million, no less. In the same year 2009, the Clinton Global Initiative gave his Chagoury Group a prize for “sustainable development.”
- The 2010 Haiti earthquake killed 160,000. The Clinton Foundation spent $US600m on rehab work there, with little to show for it. However, Tony Rodham, Hillary’s brother, was a director of a company VCS Mining that got prime access to Haitian gold deposits. Another VCS Mining director was former Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who co-chaired the Haiti rescue effort with Bill Clinton.
- Canadian energy billionaire Frank Giustra knows how the influence game is played. He has donated to the Clinton Foundation and offshoots for many years; joined the Foundation board in 2007; and from 2007 co-sponsored the “Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative”. Bill Clinton has lobbied foreign heads of state who are crucial to Giustra’s business interests.
For example, Clinton and Giustra in 2005 flew on a Giustra jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to meet with the feared Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and endorse the president’s bid to chair the Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The OSCE, among other things, verifies the fairness of elections among member states. Nazarbayev somehow enjoyed Soviet-style election support of 90% plus.[ii] It also didn’t bother Clinton that Kazakhstan is rated by Transparency International as among the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2007 the US officially backed Kazakhstan’s bid and the benighted country got the OSCE chair in 2010.
So what was in it for billionaire Giustra? President Nazarbayez, two days after the Clinton/Giustra visit, helped Giustra beat out better-qualified rivals for a bargain-priced stake in the country’s uranium mines worth $US350m. Giustra promptly donated another $US31m, ostensibly to the Clinton Foundation, and then a further $US100m in June 2008.[iii] (The Foundation’s filed accounts were vague and there are queries about how much Giustra money stuck with Clinton personally).
Bill Clinton initially lied to the New York Times that he had not met with Giustra and Kazamtomprom uranium executives at his New York home in February, 2007. But he changed his story when the reporter acquired photographs of the meeting.
A parallel Clinton-esque episode delivered to Giustra control of Columbia’s largest oilfield via Columbian then-President Alvaro Uribe. That leader’s well-known links to Columbian drug cartels, e.g. the Medellins, didn’t prevent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushing about him (contrary to strong advice from the US Embassy there) in mid-2010 when she met him in Bogota in company with Bill and Giustra.[iv]
- Chinese billionnaire developer Ng Lap Seng was arrested and gaoled without bail last year pending FBI charges of conspiracy to bribe the late recent UN President John Ashe (Antigua/Barbuda) with at least $US500,000 to assist Ng’s property wheeler-dealing.[v]Ng in the Bill Clinton/Al Gore 1996 Presidential campaign used a proxy to pour more than $US1 million into the Clinton campaign. Ng had been favored with 10 visits to the White House, including an elevator ride with Hillary Clinton. Ng’s proxy went to prison, but Ng escaped criminal charges. He allegedly has ties to the upper levels of the Chinese government, possibly its intelligence services, and carted a total $US4.5 million in suitcases of undeclared cash to the US during ten visits in 2013-15. These mysterious cash imports have drawn additional FBI charges.
- For chutzpah, you can’t beat the Clintons’ tax-exempt charity’s move in 2010 to steer funds to a private commercial interest, the for-profit Energy Pioneer Solutions operated by Clinton pals. Matthew Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor who heads ethics watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, had this to say: “It really stinks. It is very highly suspicious on its face. This is a company serving products and services, not a charitable purpose”Julie Tauber McMahon, part-owner of Energy Pioneer, is a Chappaqua neighbor and friend of the Clintons. She is also the daughter of Joel Tauber, a millionaire donor to the Democratic Party. Other owners of the firm, which was formed to insulate homes in rural America, include Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias and former Democratic congressional candidate Scott Kleeb.
Maybe our $85 million aid to the Clinton charities was well spent, including the dollops from the Howard/Abbott/Turnbull governments. I wouldn’t say every aspect of the Clinton enterprises was corrupt. Still, there are other international charities available with impeccable records and non-partisan politics. Think Red Cross or Rotary Foundation. Why would our Coalition government in particular, choose to add support with the Clinton’s reeking stew?
Tony Thomas new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, Is available here
[i] The detective work was done by Schweizer in Clinton Cash. The New York Times “broke the story” after getting an advance copy.
[ii] In a December 2005 letter to Nazarbayev following one of his landslide victories, Bill Clinton wrote: “Recognizing that your work has received an excellent grade is one of the most important rewards in life.”
[iii] Giustra had earlier told the New Yorker, “All of my chips, almost, are on Bill Clinton. He’s a brand, a worldwide brand, and he can do things and ask for things that no one else can.”
[iv] Hillary described Uribe as an “essential partner to the United States” whose “commitment to building strong democratic institutions here in Colombia” would “leave a legacy of great progress that will be viewed in historic terms.”
[v] Ashe died accidentally last month before trial. He was UN President in 2013-14.