By Richard Pollock, DCNF
Three months after leaving the White House in 2001, former President Bill Clinton arrived in India to cheering throngs to help those who had just lost a million homes in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that killed 20,000 and injured 166,000.
In classic Clinton style, he solemnly promised that his new nonprofit — called the American India Foundation (AIF) — would rebuild 100 villages. Rajat Gupta, his millionaire co-chairman, pledged $1 billion for the victims.
It never happened. Years later, AIF’s annual reports were reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation and show only seven villages were partially rebuilt by Clinton’s group, and a mere $2.7 million of $53 million raised over a decade went to the earthquake victims.
The rest went for completely unrelated projects, including “accelerating social change,” fighting AIDS, “sustainable development,” and working for “digital equalizers.”
Paltry aid for the victims notwithstanding, Clinton handsomely profited from the charity as AIF’s top officers poured more than $13 million into the Clinton Foundation and others generously gave to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns.
Bill’s personal buddies who joined him at AIF look like a den of thieves — eight AIF officers, including two co-chairmen, five trustees and a director, are felons.
Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and an outspoken critic of the Clinton Foundation, claims AIF stands out for its high number of felons in leadership positions and for the eventual financial enrichment of the Clintons.
“When you look at who were the principal contributors and trustees, there is a surprising number of convicted felons who are accused of illegal activity on a massive scale. It’s amazing,” Ortel told TheDCNF. “This is another example of a purported charity being used, in my view, to enrich the principals associated with it.”
AIF’s small aid for victims recalls the controversy that engulfed the American Red Cross when the relief organization disclosed that only $154 million of $594 million raised for a 9/11 fund was used as promised for victims of the terrorist attacks.
Philanthropy expert Leslie Lenkowsky told TheDCNF that the Red Cross scandal “created a furor. It resulted in the resignation of the president of the American Red Cross and to a change of policy so when they raise money for a particular disaster, they now have to ask donors if they can use the money for other disasters.”
Apprised of Clinton’s actions with AIF, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who is vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — which also investigated the Red Cross scandal — told TheDCNF, “From what we know, it appears they have used natural disasters and human suffering to personally enrich themselves, while doing very little to help victims.”
The Clinton’s “appetite for self-serving philanthropy and false altruism appears to know no bounds,” Blackburn said. She added that AIF’s actions should be referred to the Federal Trade Commission because “we must be consistent in how we deal with sham charities.”
The AIF stated to the IRS when it sought tax exempt status that it was a genuine disaster relief organization: “The American India Foundation was formed to render financial and managerial assistance to the disaster relief and rehabilitation effort in India following the Gujarat earthquake.”
Lenkowsky said, “If this organization raised money for earthquake victims in the villages, but used the money on other purposes that was unrelated to those victims, it’s not a good practice.”
But it appears AIF followed the Clinton Foundation script in which Middle East oil sheiks, tycoons, and billionaire business magnates gave money to that foundation with the hope of gaining access and perhaps favors from the former president, his wife and their political allies.
The sheer number of AIF executives who ran afoul of the law is dramatic. Clinton’s handpicked AIF co-chairmen — Rajat Gupta, then head of McKinsey & Company and Victor Menezes, then Citibank chairman — were both convicted of insider trading. Gupta served 19 months in federal prison and Menezes was fined $2.7 million.
Gupta was close to the Clintons. He hired Chelsea Clinton right out of college for a six-figure salary to work at McKinsey and he donated between $10,000 to $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Raj Rajaratnam was perhaps the most notorious AIF trustee. He was convicted of 14 counts of security fraud in one of the largest and most spectacular Wall Street prosecutions in decades. He is currently serving serving a sentence of 11 years in prison. Gupta passed on insider tips to Rajaratnam.
Then there’s Vinod Gupta, an AIF director who the Securities and Exchange Commission helped remove as CEO of InfoUSA because he used company funds to support a lavish lifestyle. He was forced to resign and pay $9 million in restitution.
Vinod also bestowed large financial rewards to Clinton. He paid Bill $3.3 million and gave him 100,000 stock shares of his company without prior approval from the board of directors. Vinod allowed the Clinton family to use the company’s jet, also without board approval. The Clintons got $900,000 worth of air travel. And Vinod gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Vinod had spent a night in the White House Lincoln bedroom when the Clintons opened it up to donors.
Sant Singh Chatwal, another AIF trustee, pleaded guilty in 2014 to funneling more than $180,000 in illegal contributions to candidates for federal office, including Hillary. The Times of India reported the close relationship Chatwal had with the Clintons.
“Chatwal and his wife Daman were regular visitors to the White House during the Clinton presidency. A fortnight after the Clintons left for their new home in Chappaqua, New York, Sant Singh Chatwal and his elder son, Vikram, dropped in to meet them,” the newspaper wrote.
Naveen Jain, an AIF trustee, was accused of buying and selling stocks with insider knowledge as CEO of InfoSpace. He eventually paid $107 million in a civil suit over insider trading.
Ajay Shah, another trustee was forced to pay $14.8 million for contributing to the collapse of the Trust Bank of Kenya. He fled the country to avoid the Kenya High Court decree.
Sudesh K. Arora, president of Natel, entered the criminal plea for a major Department of Defense fraud investigation. He settled and his company paid a $1 million fine.
“It comes as no surprise that the Clintons and Clinton Foundation are once again doing business with convicted felons and con men,” said Blackburn.
A spokesman for the AIF did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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