The BLOG: Politics

The enrichment of Bill and Hillary Clinton Part II

Uranium, Kazakhstan and Russia

My previous posting painted a broad brush portrait of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s modus operandi. It showed how they amassed a fortune of more than $100 million between 2001 and 2012, and solicited donations to the Clinton Foundation to further their political and financial goals, and their use of political power and connections to effect U.S. policy, which enriched their friends and donors. In this piece, we will focus on the details of one of the Clinton’s most shameful transactions which illustrated this corrupt pattern of self-enrichment, influence-peddling and using their power to help their friends achieve their goals. All of the details below emanate from Peter Schweizer’s masterful book, “Clinton Cash,” which has more than 50 pages of footnotes backing up his work.

Act I: In September 2005, Bill Clinton went to Kazakhstan on a trip that’s ostensible purpose was to fight HIV/AIDs in that country. The real purpose of the trip was to assist his close friend, Frank Giustra, a Canadian business magnate, in his effort to purchase uranium assets in Kazakhstan. Naturally, they flew in Giustra’s private plane, which Giustra made available to Clinton frequently in later years. Giustra’s company, UrAsia, was basically a shell company with no experience in uranium mining. In the normal course of events, Kazatomprom, the state-owned atomic-energy company which controlled the country’s uranium assets, would not have chosen to deal with Giustra’s company. In making this trip, Clinton agreed to meet with Kazakhstan’s despotic ruler, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was a former Communist party leader with a treacherous human rights record. In meeting him, Clinton bestowed upon him international credibility and respectability. Giustra knew that having Clinton on his team would help seal the deal. A year later, Giustra in the New Yorker 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.” Two days after the lavish banquet which Nazarbayev threw for Clinton and Giustra, Giustra’s company, UrAsia, signed two memorandums of understanding outlining the transfer of assets to UrAsia. According to “Clinton Cash,” in the months that followed, Giustra gave the Clinton Foundation $31.3 million. Through Guistra’s contacts and influence, Clinton secured many lucrative speaking engagements in the years to come.

Act II: With the Kazakhstan deal signed, UrAsia quickly went public. Giustra and some key business cronies ended with millions of shares. Then, in 2007, UrAsia Energy announced it would merge with Uranium One, a company based out of South Africa and Canada. In February 2007, shareholders approved the merger, and Giustra, his friends and other UrAsia shareholders ended up controlling 60 percent of Uranium One. Following the merger, a number of the shareholders wrote multi-million dollar checks to the Clinton Foundation and its project, the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative. Schweizer writes that Giustra made a multi-year $100 million commitment to the initiative. The collective commitments and donations to the initiative from investors who profited from the deal would ultimately surpass $145 million. Giustra in the next several years even threw several lavish fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation, bringing in Hollywood talent such as  Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

Act III: In 2009, with Hillary Clinton now Secretary of State, Russia joined the drama. Seeking to expand its share of the world uranium market, Russia, through its state atomic nuclear agency (Rosatom), bought 17 percent of Uranium One. For the next several years, Uranium One bought significant uranium assets in the U.S. including 293,000 acres in Wyoming and claims in Utah, Texas and South Dakota. Then, in May 2010, Russia announced that it was seeking to buy a majority stake (52 percent) in Uranium One. Because Uranium One had strategic uranium assets in the US, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and Hillary was a committee member of CFIUS. Senior congressmen questioned the deal, as did Senator John Barasso, who wrote a letter to the Obama administration raising concerns about Russian control of uranium assets in his state. According to Schweizer, the Clinton Foundation failed to disclose major contributions from entities controlled by those involved in Uranium One, including $2.5 million from Uranium One’s chairman, Ian Telfer. The Russian purchase of 52 percent of Uranium One stock was approved by CFIUS in October 2010. Hillary’s opposition would have meant that the deal would have to go to the President, but it never did.

ACT IV: In 2013, Russia increased its ownership in Uranium One to 100 percent. Uranium One shareholders, including Telfer, reaped millions, as the purchase price was at a 32-percent premium over the market price. Accordingly, the Russian State Nuclear Agency owns Uranium One, which controls half of current and projected American uranium production.

The end result of this complicated series of transactions was money in the pockets of Bill and Hillary Clinton, hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Clinton Foundation from key players in these transactions, and the transfer to Russia of uranium assets vital to U.S. security. This level of corruption goes way beyond whatever was unearthed in the Whitewater scandals. Do Americans really want this couple back in the White House?

The enrichment of Bill and Hillary Clinton: Part I