By Richard Pollock, DCNF
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly defended an embattled banker during an official visit to Bangladesh while Clinton Foundation officials tried to steer money from an Abu Dhabi oil company into the banker’s coffers.
A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation traced the convoluted payment by TAQA — formally known as the the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company — to Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank. Yunus is a long-time friend and Clinton Foundation donor.
The oil company deal eventually put as much as $500,000 into President Bill Clinton’s pockets via a speaking fee he got in Scotland.
The complicated set of international transactions is contained in a cryptic May 7, 2012, email chain between Cheryl Mills, then Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, and Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director. The email chain was obtained by Citizens United, the conservative activist group that is the lead plaintiff in multiple federal Freedom of Information Act court cases.
TAQA is a huge oil and gas company 74 percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government that operates in 11 countries, including Canada and the United States. The firm in 2010 won the first of three “blanket agreements” with the Obama administration to import billions of cubic feet of natural gas from Canada into the United States.
The Mills-Desai email exchange was not unique. The Department of State estimates the number of emails between Hillary’s top State Department staff and Clinton Foundation officials includes more than 12,000 separate communications.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Cateras on July 25, 2016, rejected a State Department request to release the emails over a 27-month period and ordered release of most of them by Nov. 4, just days before the presidential election pitting Hillary against Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The email chain provides a peek into the byzantine worldwide network of deals hatched by the Clinton Foundation, and illustrates the massive potential conflicts of interest involving the Clintons, their foundation, wealthy donors and foreign officials.
The issue of the TAQA donation was initially raised by Clinton Foundation development officer Linda Andich, who read an Associated Press article about Clinton’s intervention on behalf of Yunus during an official visit to Bangladesh.
Yunus was charged by an official Bangladeshi commission with financial mismanagement of Grameen Bank, a government bank that was supposed to give out “micro-loans” to poor women in the country. He was eventually forced to leave the bank.
“Just reading about HRC’s support of the Grameen Bank, which prompted me to check in for any updates for the State Department, re: the Donation from TAQA,” Andich wrote Desai and Dennis Cheng, the Clinton Foundation’s chief development officer, on the morning of May 7.
Three hours later, Desai contacted Mills, saying, “we’d welcome your guidance on accepting funds from TAQA.” Mills replied, “Will call to discuss.”
The emails show foundation officials were trying to complete a deal offered by TAQA managing director Leo Koot in Scotland. He agreed to give $60,000 to the foundation for Bill to speak at a Scotland charity and auction. The winner of the auction was to get a “Special Day with President Bill Clinton in New York.”
The foundation accepted the $60,000, and Bill went to Scotland where he received an additional $250,000 to $500,000 for his speech before a group called “Business For Change,” according to the Foundation’s website. The black tie dinner was to raise funds for Yunus and his Grameen Bank.
Yunus is a long-time friend of the Clinton’s, going back to Bill’s time as governor of Arkansas. He has often been a featured speaker at the annual Clinton Global Initiative celebrity galas in New York. His Grameen America foundation donated between $100,000 to $250,000, according to the Clinton Foundation website.
During Hillary’s tenure as the chief U.S. diplomat, the U.S. Agency for International Development, a State Department division, also awarded millions of grant dollars to Yunus and to his allies.
“Mixing official State Department business and actions with Clinton Foundation fundraising is a huge red flag,” Citizens United President David Bossie told TheDCNF. “What do discussions of foreign donations from the TAQA Group have to do with Hillary Clinton’s official duties as Secretary of State?”
The Clinton-Mills-Abu Dhabi relationship has been as long as it has been deep. Mills negotiated a deal between New York University and Abu Dhabi while working at the State Department, an issue that raised an uproar among Republicans in Congress.
Bill further earned $15 million in a hedge fund deal with business partner Sheikh Mohammed bin-Rashid al-Marktoum, the UAE’s authoritarian ruler. He collected an additional $5.6 million to serve as “honorary chairman” of a Dubai-based for-profit network of Islamic K-12 schools throughout the world. The curriculum featured in those schools includes instruction on Sharia Law, which is at the heart of Islamic terrorist ideologies behind groups like Islamic State.
Bill collected another $1 million for two speeches he delivered in Abu Dhabi that were paid for by the royal government while Hillary was secretary of state.
Clinton spoke in the country while the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were deliberating on opening a U.S. facility there to ease entering the country for U.S. travelers. The State Department overruled opposition from unions to support the facility.
“What was the priority for Hillary Clinton’s staff at the State Department?” Bossie asked. “International diplomacy for the American people or international fundraising for her family foundation?”
The DCNF received no response from a Clinton Foundation spokesman for a request for comment.