Clinton donors in the Panama Papers

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Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton condemned "outrageous tax havens and loopholes ... in Panama and elsewhere".[1][2] at a Pennsylvania AFL-CIO event. Clinton added that "some of this behavior is clearly against the law, and everyone who violates the law anywhere should be held accountable", but it was "scandalous how much is actually legal".[3] Clinton promised that "We are going after all these scams and make sure everyone pays their fair share here in America."[4][5]

However, Clinton's 2016 campaign chair John Podesta, formerly Bill Clinton's chief of staff, co-founded the Washington DC-based Podesta Group, a lobbying and public relations firm whose client Sberbank, a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin seeking removal of sanctions the US Treasury Department placed against it over the War in Donbass, is a current Mossack Fonseca client.[6] Also, McClatchy Newspapers report that the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates have close ties to several individuals who have used Mossack Fonseca for offshore corporations.

The IPO specialist and the Clinton Foundation

Frank Giustra, a Vancouver mining magnate, appears in the Panama Papers. Giustra frequently travels with Bill Clinton and has loaned Clinton his private jet 26 times. He established the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership in Canada, where tax law does not require nonprofits to disclose their donors, and bundles donations for the Clinton Foundation.[7] Giustra ran UrAsia Energy, registered May 2005 in the British Virgin Islands to produce uranium in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.[8] President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Clinton and Giustra in 2005 in Almaty.[9] Giustra's proposed uranium venture cleared Kazackh bureaucracy two days later; Moukhtar Dzhakishev, president of the state-owned uranium agency Kazatomprom, said that Nazarbayev signed off on it personally. UrAsia signed a deal to buy into three mines with Kazatomprom for $450 million,[10][11] "turning an unknown shell company into one of the world's largest uranium producers".[7] A year later Giustra made a $32.7 million donation to the Clinton Foundation.[12] Dzhakishev later traveled to the Clinton home in Chappaqua, N.Y. to discuss proposed Kazakh investment in Westinghouse, a United States supplier of nuclear technology.[7]

In 2007 Uranium One bought UrAsia for $3.1 billion; the share price had gone from ten cents to $7.05 in two years.[7] Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency, began buying stock in Uranium One, and in 2010 had reached 51% ownership. Since uranium is a strategic asset, several officials in the US and Canada had to sign off on the ownership change, including Hillary Clinton.[8] Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by Renaissance Capital to give a speech the same month.[13]

Giustra met Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at a 2005 Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.[11] In 2007 he founded Pacific Rubiales; it obtained oil leases in Columbia and its stock price soared.[11] Clinton and Giustra co-founded the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI). to which Pacific Rubiales donates $3.5 million. Clinton, Giustra, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, and with Luis Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, announce CGSGI projects, including one in Colombia. Hillary Clinton withdrew her previous opposition to a free trade agreement with Columbia.[14] Bloomberg News quotes Peter Schweizer's 2015 book Clinton Cash:

"in Colombia, where his investments include oil, timber, and coal mines, Giustra dined one evening in 2010 with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who both met with Colombia's president the next day. Soon after, one company in which Giustra holds a stake 'acquired the right to cut timber in a biologically diverse forest on the pristine Colombian shoreline' ... and another was granted valuable oil drilling rights."[15]

In total, Giustra has committed $25–$100 million to the Clinton Foundation.[5] Labor groups say the Columbian military used force to break a strike at Pacific Rubiales in 2011. Clinton certified that Columbia was complying with human rights standards in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2012 Pacific Rubiales had pledged $4.4 million to CGSGI, Bill Clinton had played golf with the company president, and Giustra himself had pledged $100 million.[16]

The fugitive billionaire

Marc Rich also figures in the Panama Papers. He appears in the leaked documents in connection with Industrial Petroleum Ltd., registered in the Bahamas in 1992,[5] and owned by Glencore International. Rich, who died in 2013,[14][15] was indicted in 1983 on 65 criminal counts and fled to Switzerland.[16] The fugitive billionaire received a controversial presidential pardon from Bill Clinton. Charged with income tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and trading with Iran during the oil embargo, while Americans were still being held hostage there, he could have been sentenced to 300 years in prison.[14][17] He was also accused of keeping South Africa supplied with oil between 1979 and 1993, partially during the time when official anti-apartheid sanctions were passed by US Congress.[18]

His ex-wife Denise made a $450,000 donation to Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas and an additional $1.2 million in donations to Democratic Party political campaigns, including Hillary Clinton's first bid for the Senate.[5] Clinton critics called it a quid pro quo, but both Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, and former prime minister Shimon Peres personally asked Clinton to pardon Rich. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Rich supplied Israel with oil. In addition, Rich, whose family escaped Nazis in 1941, funded operations to help Jews leave Yemen and Ethiopia during the 1970s and 80s.[19] Rich had contributed intelligence to Mossad (the Israeli intelligence services), wrote Salon's' Joe Conason. "Winning the pardon was a top priority for Israeli officials because Rich had long been a financial and intelligence asset of [Israel], carrying out missions in many hostile countries where he did business," and the US wanted Israeli cooperation in upcoming peace talks.[20]

The donor

Sergei Kurzin, another UrAsia shareholder in the uranium deal, worked closely with Rich in the 1990s, looking for opportunities in the former Soviet Union when it opened to mining and oil investment.[5][21] Kurzin has given the Clinton Foundation between $50,000 and $100,000,[22] and appears in the Panama Papers as the director and chairman of several oil companies.[5] In a 2009 interview, Kurzin told Forbes he gave the Clinton-Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative Foundation, which works to eliminate poverty in areas of the developing world affected by mining, "a check for a million dollars."[23]

The convicted kleptocrat

Ronald Chagoury, runs Nigerian construction business Chagoury Group with his brother Gilbert. Ronald is listed as the main shareholder of Echo Art Ltd., another Mossack Fonseca client based in the British Virgin Islands.[5] Gilbert Chagoury, who also was a close associate in the mid-1990s of the late de facto President of Nigeria Sani Abacha.[24] Nigerian prosecutor Nuhu Ribadu, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)[25] accused Gilbert Chagoury of funneling more than $4 billion from Nigeria into banks on Jersey and in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. "You couldn't investigate corruption without looking at [Gilbert] Chagoury," he said.[24] In 1996, Gilbert Chagoury donated $460,000 to a Miami-based Democratic group, and also attended the Clintons' Christmas party at the White House.[24] When Abacha died in 1998, some of Chagoury's accounts in Europe were frozen because of investigations into allegations of diverted government funds.[26] 2001 British court decision in Abacha-related litigation. In 2000, Switzerland convicted Chagoury of money laundering and "aiding a criminal organization in connection with the billions of dollars stolen from Nigeria during the Abacha years".[27] Chagoury agreed to return an estimated $300 million to the Nigerian government in exchange for immunity from charges and access to his accounts, according to a British court decision in Abacha-related litigation.[26] In 2010, Chagoury was on the federal terrorist no-fly list.[24]

The Chagoury Group did business with Glencore and Marc Rich. In the 2008 election, a Michel Chaghouri of Los Angeles is listed in campaign finance records as someone who raised at least $100,000 for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Campaign records also show that Chaghouri raised money from a number of individuals named "Chagoury" or "Chaghouri" or "Chamchoum"—Chamchoum is the maiden name of Gilbert Chagoury's wife. Several gave the federally allowed maximum of $4,600 each. Gilbert Chagoury does not appear as a donor; foreign nationals are ineligible. In 2009 the Chagoury Group pledged $1 billion worth of coastal erosion projects to the Clinton Global Initiative; the Clinton Global Initiative in turn praised Eko Atlantic as an "environmentally conscious city".[5] Gilbert Chagoury has donated $1-$5 million to the Clinton Foundation. In 2003 he organized a trip to the Caribbean where Bill Clinton was paid $100,000 for a speech.[5]

The illegal contributor

One of the world's wealthiest people,[28] Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire real estate developer from Macau, also is among the offshore owners in the leaked documents. Ng appears as a shareholder in two companies, South News International Group Ltd, registered in May 2010, and GOLUCK Ltd. in 2004, both in the British Virgin Islands.[5]

In 2015, Ng was arrested for bringing $4.5 million into the US over a two-year period.[28][29] He was involved in a scheme to bribe former UN General Assembly president John Ashe of Antigua to advance the interests of various Chinese businesses in Antigua and further UN approval of a UN conference center Ng wished to build.[30] Ng was on friendly terms with Bill Clinton when he was president, visiting the White House ten times between 1994 and 1996.[31] Using a proxy, Ng illegally contributed $1 million to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton-Gore campaign of 1996; his proxy was arrested, but Ng escaped criminal charges.[31]

The friend in the diamond business

Jean-Raymond Boulle made money fast when he and Robert Friedland found a "massive" nickel deposit in the northern Atlantic Coast of Labrador near Voisey's Bay.[17] Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, signed legislation allowing his company to engage in exploratory mining in the state. Later, Boulle and his wife attended Clinton's first inauguration. Boulle is the founder of Diamond Fields Resources, which was purchased by Inco for $4.3 billion, Diamond Fields International, Ltd., America Mineral Fields, Inc., and Titanium Resources Group, Ltd. Boulle was listed as a director of Auk Ltd., a British Virgin Islands offshore company, and Gridco Ltd., a Bahamas offshore company.[5]

The administrator

Gabrielle Fialkoff was Hillary Clinton's campaign manager in her first Senate campaign and finance director for Clinton's 2000 campaign, which was managed by Fialkoff's longtime friend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Fialkoff currently serves as di Blasio's senior adviser and director of NYC's Office of Strategic Partnerships. After serving as Haskell's president and chief operating officer, she chaired de Blasio's inauguration and led New York’s unsuccessful bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016.[18]

Fialkoff, her brother Brett, and her late father Frank were all listed in leaker Panama Papers documents as shareholders of UPAC Holdings Ltd, a British Virgin Islands offshore company incorporated in June 2012 and registered in Beijing. Brett Fialkoff, Haskell's COO, told McClatchy:

  • he didn't know why his family would be in the documents,
  • someone opened an account in their names,
  • he set up the company to export accessories from China to the United States.
  • he abandoned the offshore to give more attention to his family's jewelry company.
  • there is no money in any bank account overseas.

He declined to provide details about his compliance with U.S. tax laws, saying "There is no money ... we're not like Vladimir Putin, trying to hide our money."[5]

The most recent Mossack Fonseca information—December 2015—shows the company, registered in the British Virgin Islands remains active. Brett Failkoff acknowledged the company is still "legally alive" but said it does not and has never conducted any business.[5]

Fialkoff has been a regular donor to Democratic candidates, including Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and has donated between $250 and $1,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Responses to Clinton Ties

Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said that the Panama Papers "would play into Sanders' narrative",[5] and Matthew Turner of The Independent wrote that, with regard to the Panama Papers, "For some Americans, Hillary Clinton is the embodiment of a global elite which benefits from tax avoidance schemes. Bernie Sanders, her opponent, is its antithesis."[34]

"Clinton has struggled throughout her campaign to show that she can relate to working Americans, while Sanders has cast her as a wealthy out-of-touch Washington insider who has accepted hefty paychecks for speeches and received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from those tied to big businesses. Her connection to the Panama Papers, even if indirect, could magnify that perception."[5]

"If somebody gets paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be an unbelievably extraordinary speech", jibed Bernie Sanders, her rival in the Democratic primary. "I kind of think if that $225,000 speech was so extraordinary, she should release the transcripts and share it with all of us."[35] Sanders has criticized Clinton for the large fees offered to her for speeches, as well as for her commitment to the Panama Free Trade Agreement.[36]

Clinton received $675,000 for three speeches she made at the investment bank Goldman Sachs after she stepped down as Secretary of State and before she announced she would run for president.[37][38][39] Anderson Cooper asked at a CNN debate whether accepting this much money amounted to "a bad error in judgement. Clinton argued that she had "made speeches to lots of groups ... that's what they offered. Every Secretary of State I know has done that".[40]

According to an analysis by the Associated Press, over one-third of Clinton's speech donors have government contracts, and almost all 82 groups Clinton has spoken to – including multinational corporations and trade organizations – have actively sought to influence the government via corporate lobbying, bidding for contracts, commenting on federal policy and contacting State Department officials or Clinton herself.[35][41] According to Richter, Sanders – whose campaign is financed mainly by small donors[36] and labor unions (in contrast to the large banks and corporations which have funded rival Clinton's campaign)[42] – believes that the Panama Papers prove his hypothesis that the "system" only serves the rich and powerful.[36]

Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center said: "Obviously there's no wrongdoing – it's a question of perception and values. [The Clintons have] been in public life so long; when you enter that sphere you have these connections."[43]

See also

References

  1. Hannah Fraser-Chanpong (April 6, 2016). "Hillary attacks Sanders, China in speech to union". CBS News. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  2. Sirota, David. "Hillary Clinton Touted Tax Transparency In Supporting Panama Trade Deal, Despite Warnings From Watchdog Groups". International Business Times. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  3. Fraser, Ibid
  4. Fraser, Ibid
  5. Sirota, Ibid
  6. Norton, Ben (April 8, 2016). "With Saudi and Russian ties, Clinton machine's tentacles are far reaching, according to Panama Papers". Salon. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  7. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/https://harpers.org/blog/2015/11/shaky-foundations/
  8. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article72215012.html
  9. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/https://books.google.com/books?id=i2W4CgAAQBAJ&pg=PT316
  10. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/us/politics/31donor.html
  11. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html
  12. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-clintons-a-luxury-jet-and-their-100-million-donor/2015/05/03/688051d0-ecef-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html could
  13. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/apr/26/peter-schweizer/fact-checking-clinton-cash-author-claim-about-bill/
  14. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/03/travels-with-bill-and-frank-a-look-at-the-clinton-giustra-friendship/
  15. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-07/the-billionaire-whose-clinton-foundation-ties-could-be-trouble-for-hillary-clinton
  16. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.ibtimes.com/colombian-oil-money-flowed-clintons-state-department-took-no-action-prevent-labor-1874464
  17. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/www.reuters.com/article/diamondfields-delisting-idUSL1N0C6GZX20130314
  18. https://archive.is/o/ruXkv/observer.com/2014/02/bill-de-blasio-names-wife-chair-of-the-mayors-fund-gabrielle-fialkoff-senior-adviser/