The Hill-Billy Cash Pump
Hillary Clinton: We knew her as a grim, charmless harridan; a pear-shaped harpy. Now, after reading Peter Schweizer's new book, Clinton Cash (HarperCollins, New York, May 2015), we see the ultimate Hillary, one of the world's truly scary women. Think Lady Macbeth, Messalina, Evita. Add Bill to the sordid picture and you have Bonnie and Clyde -- elected to high office, and lionized all over the world.
We know about Hillary's thousands of missing e-mails and unaccountable donors. What may be less known is how the Clinton double-scam works. Take, first of all, the so-called Clinton Foundation, whose stated purpose is "to strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence," whatever that means. Founded in 2001, when Bill had just left office, it boasts a staff of 350, mostly Clinton cronies and insiders.
Once liberated from the White House, Bill hit the lecture circuit, collecting $105.5 million dollars through 2012 and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for the Clinton Foundation. Significantly, his biggest payments came not from sources in the United States but from foreign investors, businesses and governments…hungry for access to the corridors of American power.
Meanwhile, Hillary, as a U.S. Senator, was "gaining influence and power." During her tenure, "two-thirds of Bill's enormous speaking fees [came] from foreign sources." After she became Secretary of State, Bill's income from speaking fees "ballooned." Tens of millions of dollars "flowed to the Clinton Foundation from the foreign governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as from dozens of foreign financiers."
Look at this in perspective; the Senate, before confirming her as secretary of state, wanted assurances on the subject of foreign donors and of transparency, so "Hillary promised that 'the Foundation will publish annually the names of all contributors for that year.'" On CNN, Bill added, "If she is going to be secretary of state, and I operate globally…it's important to make it totally transparent." And finally, "the Clintons said they would seek preapproval from the Obama administration on direct contributions…from foreign governments of government-owned businesses."
Thus reassured, the Senate confirmed her. But the Clintons violated the commitment "almost immediately," failing "to disclose gifts amounting to millions of dollars from foreign entities and businessmen" in transactions "with serious national security implications."
Here is how it worked: Bill flew around the world making speeches and burnishing his reputation as a global humanitarian and wise man. Very often on these trips he was accompanied by "close friends" or associates who happened to have business interests in these countries. Introductions were made, deals struck…. Meanwhile, bureaucratic or legislative obstacles were mysteriously cleared or approvals granted within the purview of his wife, the powerful senator or secretary of state.
Such was the scenario when in 2005, "Bill Clinton found himself, of all places, in Almaty, Kazakhstan," ostensibly to help the country's AIDS patients -- a miniscule number, between 0.1 and 0.3,% of the population -- but in reality to procure a deal with Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, under whose despotic rule Kazakhstan was mired in corruption and human rights abuses.
One of the densest thickets in this book full of foreign names and alphabet soups of abbreviations, this chapter is the hardest to condense. The essence of the malodorous deal starts with Bill flying to Kazakhstan with Canadian mining tycoon Frank Giustra in Giustra's luxurious private jet. Giustra was looking to close a mining deal in Kazakhstan, and looking to Clinton for assistance. As he said, "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." The two established something called the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) as part of the Clinton Foundation, whose activities just happen to be sited near mines.
Giustra's company, UrAsia Energy, wanted access to Kazakh mining. The day after Clinton and Giustra were feted at a banquet given by Nazarbayev, the two left Kazakhstan, with Giustra owning a 30 per cent stake in one uranium project and 70 per cent of another. Then, lo: "In the months that followed, Giustra gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million," one of many subsequent huge donations.
Giustra meanwhile started directing shares of UrAsia to friends, including a big-time dealer named Ian Telfer, who received 2.2 million shares. And then UrAsia Energy merged with a South African/Canadian company called Uranium One, of which the same Ian Telfer would soon become chairman. The merger's largest shareholders happily began writing multimillion dollar checks to the Clinton Project and its latest bastard child, the Clinton Giustra project. Telfer committed $3 million.
Senator Hillary was silent through all of this, even though a part of the deal involved – incredibly -- Clinton's nominating the dictator and human rights abuser Nazarbayev as chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Even Joe Biden objected to this farce, but ultimately the dictator was awarded the chairmanship.
But when Hillary became secretary of state, the field of opportunity, along with the flow of money, widened. Vladimir Putin, Bill's pal since 1999, had become Hillary's friend, too. And in June 2009, Russia's atomic nuclear agency, Rosatom, bought a piece of Uranium One. Uranium One had been "aggressively" buying uranium assets in the United States. By 2010, the company owned or planned 61 projects in Wyoming, and held thousands of acres in Utah, Texas, and South Dakota. The plan was that Uranium One would control half of United States uranium by 2015. Then, also in 2010, "Rosatom announced it was seeking to buy majority control (52 percent) of Uranium One."
The Russian acquisition meant giant payoffs for the shareholders in Uranium One, and unsurprisingly, "several multi-million-dollar Clinton Foundation donors were at the center of the deal," totaling approximately $145 million. None of these donations are listed in Clinton Foundation public disclosures. Despite protestations in Congress, the Russian deal went through, and today Russia, having started the bid at 52 per cent, "owns the company outright."
Hillary, of course, was secretary of state in 2010. Moreover, as secretary of state she was a member of the little-known Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), set up "to evaluate any investment transactions that might have a direct effect on American national security." The Russian deal was approved by CFIUS in October 2010. Hillary's opposition would have been enough to stop it.
Shortly after the Russian deal was announced, Bill was in Moscow to give a speech. His fee: $500,000.
And so it goes. "The Clintons point our that neither Bill, Hillary, nor Chelsea take a salary from the Clinton Foundation." While this may be technically true, the hundreds of millions that flow into the foundation do make for quite a tidy bundle. And Bill's preposterously overpriced speeches are apparently yawners: His "go-to speech, entitled 'Our Common Humanity,' is largely about the work of the foundation."
But business is business, and the Clintons have apparently never met a dictator they couldn't do business with. The examples abound, from every corner of the world reachable by private jet. For instance in the "house of horrors" known as the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]:
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo has worked with the Clinton Global Initiative as a partner…. In October 2011 he was a member of an official State Department delegation to Sudan. The following month he joined forces with a Hillary presidential campaign bundler named Kase Lawal on a $10 million venture to transport 4.5 tons of gold out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to a UN report, the deal involved some of the most notorious war criminals on the planet, including "individuals operating in [DRC] and committing serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children or women.
The warlord, Bosco Ntaganda, "belongs near the top of the list" of "nefarious criminal leaders in Africa." But the Clintons had hugely profitable deals in other "houses of horror," such as Sudan, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
Nigeria is widely recognized as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It has also been one of the most lucrative countries for the Clintons. Over the course of more than fifteen years, they have collected large speaking fees, campaign-related funds, and large contributions for the Clinton Foundation from those who have made fortunes by working in the corrupt world of Nigerian politics.
When Hillary became secretary of state, Bill "booked two of his top three highest-paid speeches ever by traveling to Nigeria, pulling in a whopping $700,000 each."
And what about the poverty-stricken people of Nigeria? When Bill appeared at an event there in 2013 to collect an award, "he handed out checks to schoolteachers as a reward for their work. But while Clinton collected his fee, the teachers saw their checks bounce."
Perhaps the saddest chapter in Schweizer's book is the one on Haiti, headed "Disaster Capitalism Clinton-Style." You will remember the 7.0 earthquake of January 2010 that destroyed much of that ill-starred island, killing some 230,000 people and leaving millions homeless. It didn't take long for the Clintons to arrive. "With a cluster of cameras around him, Bill teared up as he described what he saw."
Esquire Magazine called Clinton the "CEO of a leaderless nation." In this "Super Bowl of disasters," the Clintons became the "referees," according to one contractor who was jockeying to compete. They parceled out jobs, as was their custom, to their friends, contributors, and cronies. For example, their old Arkansas buddy, Wesley Clark, arrived representing a Florida company, Innovida, a manufacturer of building materials. "Innovida received a $10 million loan from the US government to build five hundred houses in Haiti":
Sadly the houses were never built. In 2012 Osorio [the CEO of Innovida] was indicted and convicted of financial fraud. Prosecutors would later accuse Osorio, who drove a Maserati and lived in a Miami Beach mansion, of using the money intended for relief victims to "repay investors for his and his co-conspirators' personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme." He was ultimately sentenced to twelve years in jail. Innovida collapsed.
The chapter is filled with other fiascoes and swindles, with guest appearances by Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, and a petition prompted by Haitian lawyers for an audit of Clinton's ventures. In the meantime, however, the rubble-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince are still populated by those who saw their homes destroyed in 2010. These victims' net worth hasn't changed, but that of the Clintons and their associates surely has.
Schweizer has written an explosive and damning book. It is no wonder that, according to Business Insider, he has had to arrange full-time security for himself and his family. Shades of Vince Foster.