Saturday, May 23, 2015

Clinton Foundation Decision to Accept Foreign Money Raises Eyebrows


The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will continue to accept donations from a limited group of foreign countries - mainly from six nations in particular - despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her bid for the US presidency.

Clinton Foundation Decision to Accept Foreign Money Raises Eyebrows

© AP Photo/ Charlie Neibergall
(updated 10:46 16.04.2015) Get short URL
The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will continue to accept donations from a limited group of foreign countries - mainly from six nations in particular - despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her bid for the US presidency. It’s a decision that could haunt her on the campaign trail.
According to a policy summary released Thursday, the six countries that will still be allowed make donations — Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom — are nations that already have a history of donating to the foundation for climate change, health and economic development.
Clinton stepped down from the board of the foundation Sunday when she announced she would seek the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016, and the Foundation has said it will increase the frequency with which it reports donations to four times a year.
Large donations from other nations will not be allowed, though they will still be accepted by the Clinton Global Initiative, a subsidiary of the main Foundation.
Concerns raised during the 2008 presidential campaign that donations to a foundation run by her husband represented a conflict of interest for Clinton while she ran for or held public office led to an agreement that outlined restrictions on foreign government donations.The foundation remained under Bill Clinton's direction during her tenure at the State Department.
Though only one of the donations made by foreign governments seems to have violated the terms of that 2008 agreement, the resumption of donations since the agreement's lapse in 2013 has raised ethical concerns since Clinton was still seen as an almost inevitable presidential candidate.
Some of the donors in 2014 were also seen as politically sensitive, coming from countries with, for example, poor human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Canada also donated while lobbying for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.


Foreign Gov’ts Gave Millions to Clinton Fund While Hillary Was Sec of State

© AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez
(updated 08:46 27.02.2015) Get short URL
While Hillary Clinton was US Secretary of State, The Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars from foreign governments, and at least one contribution was in violation of a State Department ethics agreement, the Washington Post reports.
After President Bill Clinton left office, he set up the Clinton Foundation, which Hillary added her name to in 2013 after leaving the State Department. An agreement reached in 2008 had outlined restrictions on accepting foreign government donations due to Obama administration concerns that her association with the foundation might raise ethical concerns while she was involved in diplomatic activities for the nation.

But at least seven foreign governments donated millions of dollars during her tenure, and though most of those fell under exceptions stipulated in the 2008 agreement, one in particular has raised red flags, as it was not properly vetted.
A donation of $500,000 from Algeria was not cleared by the government and Foundation officials admitted as much to the Post. The money was intended for earthquake relief in Haiti, but the donation coincided with Algeria’s lobbying the State Department on human rights issues. The other six governments who donated were Australia, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, and Qatar.

As the agreement lapsed in 2013 when Clinton left the State Department, foreign governments have started to give again, raising ethical concerns anew since she is almost certainly going to be a presidential candidate. For example, the United Arab Emirates has given between $1 million and $5 million and Germany has donated between $100,000 and $250,000, and both are first-time contributors. Saudi Arabia has also resumed donations, which, before they lapsed due to the agreement, had totalled between $10 million and  $25 million.
Donations “Help Save Lives” The foundation has defended the donations, and said that it “will continue to ensure the Foundation’s policies and practices regarding support from international partners are appropriate” if Clinton runs for office in 2016.
“As with other global charities, we rely on the support of individuals, organizations, corporations and governments who have the shared goal of addressing critical global challenges in a meaningful way,” said Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian. “When anyone contributes to the Clinton Foundation, it goes towards foundation programs that help save lives.”

This is just the latest in a series of concerns raised about the ethical implications of the Foundation’s donors on Clinton’s nearly-certain 2-16 presidential run.
Apart from the Algerian donation, several donations came from states with difficult US-relations or troubling human rights records, such as Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
Blood in the Water for Opponents
The ethical questions around the donations have left Clinton open to criticism from her political opponents.
Carly Fiorina, a former tech executive considering a 2016 GOP presidential bid was quick to jump on the issue in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday.
"She tweets about women's rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights," Fiorina told the audience. “The alarming rate at which these contributions are now coming in presents a massive conflict-of-interest problem for her,’’ Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told the Wall Street Journal.
“The potential conflict of interest for someone in Clinton’s position requires they return the money, and the ethical lapse to accept the money in the first place calls into question Hillary Clinton’s judgment,” read a statement from the conservative political action committee America Rising.
But even before the revelations about money from foreign governments, the foundation’s donors were making headlines.  The foundation also received a total of $26 million in corporate donations by at least 60 companies while Clinton held public office in 2009 —2013, the Wall Street Journal found.
After a massive leak of account information from the Swiss arm of UK-based bank, HSBC, it was found that several account-holders at the scandal ridden bank had also been Clinton Foundation donors — though none was found to have participated in the tax-dodging practices that have tarnished the bank’s reputation.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, December 3, 2014

Corporate Donations to Hillary Clinton Amount to $26Mln

© AFP 2015/ Jim WATSON
(updated 19:28 20.02.2015) Get short URL
More than $26 million was donated to the Clinton Foundation by at least 60 companies when Hillary Clinton held public office in 2009-2013.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Former US State Secretary and possible 2016 presidential election candidate Hillary Clinton's non-profit foundation received a total of $26 million in corporate donations, the Wall Street Journal found. According to the publication's review of public disclosures, more than $26 million was donated to the Clinton Foundation by at least 60 companies when Clinton held public office in 2009-2013.
As Democratic and Republican hopefuls line up for the upcoming presidential campaign, increased media scrutiny is commonly becoming the unofficial vetting process of potential candidates.
"The Clinton Foundation has raised hundreds of millions that it claims is for charitable causes, but clearly overlaps with Hillary Clinton's political ambitions," conservative political action group director, Tim Miller, told the newspaper.
The Clinton Foundation itself rebuked critics in Thursday's statement addressing the latest suggestions of foul play.
"Should Secretary Clinton decide to run for office, we will continue to ensure the Foundation's policies and practices regarding support from international partners are appropriate, just as we did when she served as Secretary of State," the statement read.
Meanwhile, citing tax returns, the Wall Street Journal found the Clinton Foundation along with its affiliated organizations generated a total of more than $1.6 billion in pledges and donations. A former Republican employee described these contributions to the newspaper as a "bonanza for opposition researchers."
"They enable her critics to suggest the appearance of a conflict of interest," Jack Pitney, now a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, was quoted as saying.
Established in 2001, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation works broadly in areas of health security, economic empowerment, leadership development, citizen services, as well as racial, ethnic and religious reconciliation.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton was edged out in the primaries by eventual Democratic Party nominee and current two-term US President Barack Obama.

Clinton Foundation Donors Found to be Clients of Controversial Swiss Bank

© AP Photo/ Matt Dunham
(updated 11:33 11.02.2015) Get short URL
As US prosecutors consider filing criminal charges against UK-based HSBC for aiding tax evaders, several major donors to a Clinton-family foundation are revealed to have ties to the bank’s controversial Swiss division.
The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation received $81 million from from various international donors who were clients of  HSBC’s Swiss division in Geneva, the Guardian reports.
Donors include the Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra whose contributions total at least $50 million. Richard Caring, a British retail clothing magnate and club owner, donated $1 million to the Clintons’ foundation in exchange for Bill Clinton’s attendance at an opulent St. Petersburg gala.
Caring came under scrutiny after it came to light that he had made a $3.4 million cash withdrawal from HSBC at one point. “I appreciate it was a large amount of money but I was put in that position at the time because the people I was dealing with did not want to use HSBC in a particular transaction,” he later told the Daily Mail.
Seven of the HSBC accounts whose details were recently leaked to journalists matched records in a database released in 2008 by the Clintons’ foundation in response to conflict-of-interest concerns raised during Hillary’s presidential campaign. Under US law, foundations don't normally have to disclose the names of donors.
Representatives of both Giustra and Caring said their Swiss HSBC accounts complied with all applicable law, and neither has been accused of being part of the tax evasion scandal currently plaguing the world’s second largest bank.
As Hillary Clinton is widely expected to enter the 2016 presidential race, her and her family’s connections to such wealthy international mega-donors may not play well in a campaign likely to run up against debates about income inequality.
Biggest Leak in Banking History
The accusations swirling around HSBC only intensified over the weekend with the leaking of a massive trove of secret documents detailing more than 30,000 accounts that contained more than $120 billion over the years 2005-2007.
The documents show that HSBC’s Swiss division had apparently helped its clients cheat their country’s tax systems, handled huge sums of cash with minimal questions asked, colluded with some clients to conceal their undeclared "black" accounts, and provided accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals. EMBED
The documents were leaked by bank employee Herve Falciani who downloaded them illegally before fleeing to France.
"Friends — let's say partners — gave me these data," Falciani told CBS’ 60 minutes. "I'm not the only person in banking system that wants to raise alarm."
After the documents were released, HSBC admitted wrongdoing but said that it had reformed its practices and no longer violated banking regulations.
“Major regulatory reform is under way in numerous jurisdictions to ensure … that in the near future, an individual wishing to 'hide' assets from tax authorities will be unable to do so. HSBC fully welcomes and supports these reforms,” HSBC said in a statement.
Bank, Already Fined, May Face Criminal Charges
HSBC has been under investigation by the US government for years, and in 2012 was fined $1.9 billion when it was found to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and violated US sanctions.
Though the secret documents are only just being published, the US Department of Justice received them in 2010 and has had an on-going investigation into the bank.
“The government comes down hard on individuals who break the law time after time, and it should do the same for large financial institutions, “ said Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday.
DoJ officials told the Guardian that the investigation has been “very active” but had no timeline as to when charges might be brought. They left the door open to pursuing charges not just against tax-evading clients, but bank executives as well. “It is certainly something that is under consideration.”
HSCB is headquartered in London and has an international network of 6,200 offices in 74 countries, serving around 52 million customers.

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