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'Indian donations got Hillary to support nuke deal'

Last updated on: May 04, 2015 15:12 IST

New book claims Amar Singh gave between 20 and 100 per cent of his entire net worth to the Clinton Foundation.

A highly anticipated book has alleged that Hillary Clinton, then co-chair of the Senate India Caucus and a United States Senator, changed her position on the nuclear agreement between the United States and India because large donations were made to the Clinton Foundation.

In the book -- Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Help Make Bill and Hillary Rich -- author Peter Schweizer speculates whether former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh was a conduit for powerful interests in India pushing for approval of the India-US nuclear deal.

Both the US State Department and the White House have refused to comment on the controversies surrounding the funding of the Clinton Foundation.

The tabloid New York Post referred to the book Clinton Cash and said the Clinton Foundation received between $1 million and $5 million in 2008 from Amar Singh.

The book has become a major point of contention as Hilalry Clinton kicks off her 2016 bid for the White House, Politico reported. Hillary Clinton has dismissed the controversy surrounding the allegations calling it one of many 'distractions and attacks.'

The Clinton Foundation and her team have strongly refuted suggestions of any wrongdoings and maintained that there was transparency in receiving donations for the foundation's public cause.

The book also looks at the alleged inappropriate financial arrangements between foreign entities and the Clintons. Responding to one of Politico's reports that alleged Clinton's diplomatic role directly affected the business of major foundation donor Frank Giustra, her team said that Peter Schweizer briefed Republican Party leaders about his research, and that some of his sources have been proven false.

In its report, the New York Post said Amar Singh's 2008 donation was made as the US Congress debated the approval of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal. Hillary Clinton supported the bill, which was passed by Congress with an overwhelming majority.

According to the Post, Schweitzer says in the book that Amar Singh had given between 20 and 100 per cent of his entire net worth to the Clinton Foundation.

Amar Singh has denied any wrong doing and claimed he was victim of 'assumptions and rumour-mongering.'

According to Politico, in a chapter, titled, 'Indian Nukes: How to Win a Medal by Changing Hillary's Mind,' Schweitzer has detailed a series of donations to the Clintons from Indians who supported the nuclear deal.

It also points to an Indian-American Clinton donor receiving an award from the Indian government for his work in securing the agreement.

In April 2014, Politco noted prominent New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, a 'top bundler for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign,' pled guilty in federal court in an illegal contribution scheme for Clinton's 2008 run.

In a report published on Rediff.com on December 19, 2008, Aziz Haniffa, the Rediff.com Editor based in Washington, DC, reported thus:

'Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh contributed anywhere from $1 to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and so did industrialist Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of ArcelorMittal, according to information released by the non-profit organisation set up by former President Bill Clinton to fund a variety of charitable activities around the world, including combating the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

The Foundation raised a total of $492 million since its inception in 1997 through the end of 2007, from 205,000 donors, including foreign governments, other charitable foundations, trade groups like the Confederation of Indian Industry (which gave anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million), businesses, and individuals who gave as little as $10 each.

The list did not release specific figures, but only provided a range of the contributions made, and neither did it list the occupation or countries of resident of the individual donors. So, it could not be ascertained whether Singh and Mittal gave $1 million or $5 million, or somewhere in between, as with the CII, whether it gave exactly $500,000 or a $1 million or somewhere in between. The figures showed that the Foundation received more than $40 million from Saudi Arabia ($10 to $25 million range) and other Gulf countries, including Kuwait and Qatar and from Oman, Brunei, Norway and Italy.

Earlier, it had refused to disclose details of who the contributors were saying it wanted to maintain their confidentiality, but with President-elect Barack Obama naming former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State designate, a memorandum of understanding had been hammered out between the Obama and Clinton teams that the Foundation would not only release these names but also submit future Foundation activities and paid speeches by the former President to an ethics review.

Under the terms of the agreement, Clinton was also to absolve himself from the day-to-day operations of his annual Clinton Global Initiative to which several foreign governments and organisations had pledged funds and that the State Department would be kept informed about new contributors, which going forward were unlikely to include foreign governments.

The Foundation's CEO Bruce Lindsay and attorney Cheryl Mills, according to the Associated Press, had also met with senior aides to Senator John Kerry, incoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and the ranking Republican on the panel, Senator Richard Lugar and apprised them of the MOU between them and the Obama team.

Several television networks like ABC News and CNN echoed the sentiments expressed by the AP report that 'the list also underscores ties between the Clintons and India, a connection that could complicate diplomatic perception of whether Hillary Clinton can be a neutral broker between India and Pakistan in a region where President-elect Barack Obama will face an early test of his foreign policy leadership'.

The report noted that Amar Singh, an Indian political leader had 'hosted Bill Clinton during a visit to India in 2005 and met Hillary Clinton in New York in September to discuss the Indo-US civil nuclear deal'.

The Associated Press also said, 'Some of the donors have extensive ties to Indian interests and could prove troubling to Pakistan,' and noted that 'tensions between the two nuclear nations are high since last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai.'

In an exclusive interview with Rediff.com, when he visited the US in September (2008), Amar Singh said the specific purpose of his trip at that particular time was to meet with Hillary Clinton to among other things to urge her to push for the consummation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

He said, "I have had a very close relationship with Hillary Clinton. I had not met her for long. I had a dinner appointment with her yesterday night (September 12), where we spent some quality time together for more than two hours. So, that was the sole purpose of my visit because I thought that I should seize this opportunity to come and interact with her."

When asked how this relation was formed, Amar Singh had said, "Our relationship was formed long time back. We met together in India through Sant Chatwal (the New York-based multi-millionaire hotelier and close friend of the Clintons) and thereafter it developed gradually and Mr Clinton came all the way to Lucknow to attend a dinner for me and then in all the Clinton program initiative meetings he has been calling me and interacting with me."'

Image: Then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh greets then US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at a joint meeting of Congress in the US House of Representatives chamber on Capitol Hill, July 29, 2005. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

The Rediff News Bureau / Rediff.com