Saudi Arabia Among Biggest Donors to Clinton Foundation
Bill Clinton's foundation disclosed the names of its 205,000 donors on a Web site Thursday, ending a decade of resistance to identifying the sources of its money.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Former President Bill Clinton's foundation has raised at least $46 million from Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments that his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton may end up negotiating with as the next secretary of state.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit created by the former president to finance his library in Little Rock, Ark., and charitable efforts to reduce poverty and treat AIDS. Other foreign government givers include Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica. The Dutch national lottery gave $5 million to $10 million.
The Blackwater Training Center donated $10,001 to $25,000. The State Department -- to be led by Hillary Clinton if she is confirmed -- will have to decide next year whether to renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Five Blackwater guards have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury on manslaughter and weapons charges stemming from a September 2007 firefight in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in which 17 Iraqis died.
The foundation disclosed the names of its 205,000 donors on a Web site Thursday, ending a decade of resistance to identifying the sources of its money. While the list is heavy with international business leaders and billionaires, some 12,000 donors gave $10 or less.
Clinton agreed to release the information after concerns emerged that his extensive international fundraising and business deals could conflict with America's interests if his wife became Obama's top diplomat. The foundation has insisted for years that it was under no legal obligation to identify its contributors, contending that many expected confidentiality when they donated.
The list also underscores ties between the Clintons and India, a connection that could complicate diplomatic perceptions of whether Hillary Clinton can be a neutral broker between India and neighbor Pakistan in a region where President-elect Barack Obama will face an early test of his foreign policy leadership.
The former president did not release specific totals for each donor, providing only ranges of giving. Nor did he identify individual contributors' occupations or countries of residence.
Donors gave Clinton's foundation at least $492 million from its inception in 1997 through last year, according to the most recent figures available.
After negotiations with Obama's transition team, Clinton promised to reveal the contributors, submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to an ethics review, step away from the day-to-day operation of his annual charitable conference and inform the State Department about new sources of income and speeches.
Representatives of the foundation, including CEO Bruce Lindsay and attorney Cheryl Mills, and aides to Hillary Clinton met privately Wednesday with staff of incoming Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry of Massachusetts and ranking Republican Dick Lugar of Indiana to discuss the foundation's activities and review a memorandum of understanding drawn up by the Clinton and Obama teams.
The Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings and vote on Hillary Clinton's nomination before sending it to the full Senate. Shortly after Obama tapped Clinton, Lugar said he would support her, though he said there would still be "legitimate questions" raised about the former president's extensive international involvement.
"I don't know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this -- who has such cosmic ties," Lugar said.
Some of the donors have extensive ties to Indian interests that could prove troubling to Pakistan. Tensions between the two nuclear nations are high since last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Amar Singh, a donor in the $1 million to $5 million category, is an Indian politician who played host to Bill Clinton on a visit to India in 2005 and met Hillary Clinton in New York in September to discuss an India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement.
Also in that giving category was Suzlon Energy Ltd. of Amsterdam, a leading supplier of wind turbines. Its chairman is Tulsi R. Tanti, one of India's wealthiest executives. Tanti announced plans at Clinton's Global Initiative meeting earlier this year for a $5 billion project to develop environmentally friendly power generation in India and China.
Two other Indian interests gave between $500,000 and $1 million each:
--The Confederation of Indian Industry, an industrial trade association.
--Dave Katragadda, an Indian capital manager with holdings in media and entertainment, technology, health care and financial services.
Other foreign governments also contributed heavily to the foundation.
--AUSAID, the Australian government's overseas aid program, and COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, each gave $10 million to $25 million.
--Norway gave $5 million to $10 million.
--Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Oman gave $1 million to $5 million each.
--The government of Jamaica and Italy's Ministry for Environment and Territory gave $50,000 to $100,000 each.
--The biggest donations -- more than $25 million each -- came from two donors.
They are the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, a London-based philanthropic organization founded by hedge fund manager Chris Hohn and his wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn and dedicated to helping children, primarily in Africa and India; and UNITAID, an international drug purchase organization formed by Brazil, France, Chile, Norway and Britain to help provide care for HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis patients in countries with high disease rates.
The foundation's donor list is heavy with overseas business interests.
--Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid gave $1 million to $5 million.
--Friends of Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Foundation each gave $1 million to $5 million, as did the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office.
--The Swedish Postcode Lottery gave $500,000 to $1 million.
--China Overseas Real Estate Development and the U.S. Islamic World Conference gave $250,000 to $500,000 apiece.
--The No. 4 person on the Forbes billionaire list, Lakshmi Mittal, the chief executive of international steel company ArcelorMittal, gave $1 million to $5 million. Mittal is a member of the Foreign Investment Council in Kazakhstan, Goldman Sachs' board of directors and the World Economic Forum's International Business Council, according to the biography on his corporate Web site.
Among other $1 million to $5 million donors:
--Harold Snyder, director for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the largest drug company in Israel. His son, Jay T. Snyder, serves on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which oversees State Department activities, and served as a senior U.S. adviser to the United Nations, where he worked on international trade and poverty. Jay Snyder donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation.
--No. 97 on the Forbes billionaire list, Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi.
--Issam Fares, a former deputy prime minister of Lebanon.
--Mala Gaonkar Haarman, a partner and managing director at the private investment partnership Lone Pine Capital.
--Lukas Lundin, chairman of oil, gas and mining businesses including Tanganyika Oil Company Ltd., an international oil and gas exploration and production company with interests in Syria, and Vostok Nafta Investment Ltd., an investment company that focuses on Russia and other former Soviet republics.
--Victor Pinchuk, son-in-law of the former president of Ukraine. Clinton spoke in 2007 at an annual meeting of Yalta European Strategy, a group Pinchuk founded to promote Ukraine joining the European Union.
The top ranks of Clinton's donor list are heavy with longtime Democratic givers, including some who are notable for their staunch support of Israel.
--TV producer Haim Saban and his family foundation, who donated between $5 million and $10 million, splits his time between homes in Israel and California. "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel," he told The New York Times in 2004.
--Slim-Fast diet foods tycoon S. Daniel Abraham, a donor of between $1 million and $5 million, has been a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which promotes Israel's interests before the U.S. government.
--The American Jewish Committee and the United Nations Foundation donated $100,000 to $250,000.
Clinton thanked his donors in a statement for being "steadfast partners in our work to impact the lives of so many around the world in measurable and meaningful ways."
According to the memorandum negotiated by the foundation and top Obama advisers, Bill Clinton agreed to publish the names of all past and future contributors to his foundation during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.
The former president also agreed to step away from direct involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual charitable conference where businesses and many foreign governments pledge donations to help ameliorate AIDS, poverty and other social ills. He will continue serving as CGI's founding chairman but will not solicit money or sponsorships. The CGI will cease accepting foreign contributions and will not host events outside the United States.
Clinton started raising money for his library before leaving the White House. Over the years, the Clintons repeatedly refused to identify all the foundation donors, and continued to do so during Hillary Clinton's 2007-08 presidential campaign.
Names surfaced nonetheless. Several news organizations unearthed foreign-government donors, and in 2001, Bill Clinton turned over a list of 150 top foundation donors to a House committee investigating his pardon of fugitive businessman Marc Rich, whose ex-wife, Denise Rich, gave the library foundation at least $450,000.
Click here to see the complete list of donors to the Clinton Foundation.
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