Interior Panama Papers: Multiple Clinton connections

Source:   —  April 17, 2016, at 1:03 AM

Among them are , finance director for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for the U. S. Senate; , a Canadian mining magnate who's traveled the globe with Bill Clinton; the family, which pledged $1 billion in projects to the Clinton Global Initiative; and Chinese billionaire , who was at the middle of a Democratic fund-raising scandal when Bill Clinton was president.

Interior Panama Papers: Multiple Clinton connections

recently blasted the hidden financial dealings exposed in the , but she and her husband have multiple connections with people who have used the besieged law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore entities.

Among them are , finance director for Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for the U. S. Senate; , a Canadian mining magnate who's traveled the globe with Bill Clinton; the family, which pledged $1 billion in projects to the Clinton Global Initiative; and Chinese billionaire , who was at the middle of a Democratic fund-raising scandal when Bill Clinton was president. Also using the Panamanian law firm was the company founded by the late billionaire investor , an international fugitive when Bill Clinton pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.

The ties are both recent and decades old, not surprising for the Democratic presidential front-runner and her husband, who have been in public life since the one thousand nine hundred seventy.

Each is listed in the massive leak of data from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm with expertise in registering offshore companies, which can have legitimate business purposes, but can also be used to evade taxes and launder money. Several heads of state were found in the leak, leading to the and investigations in several other countries.

and about three hundred fifty other journalists working below the umbrella of the have searched an archive containing more than 11.5 million Mossack Fonseca documents, including passports, financial records and emails. After a series of articles earlier this mo revealed how business owners and politicians used offshores, authorities raided the law firm’s offices in Panama. The law firm has denied all accusations of wrongdoing.

Hillary Clinton what she called “outrageous tax havens and loopholes that super-rich people across the world are exploiting.”

“Now, some of this behavior is clearly against the law, and everyone who violates the law anywhere should be held accountable,” she said, speaking at the AFL-CIO conference recently. “But it’s also scandalous how much is actually legal.”

The Clintons themselves don't show up to be in Mossack Fonseca’s database, nor does it show up that their daughter, Chelsea, or her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, who co-founded a hedge fund, are listed. But Bill and Hillary Clinton’s connections to people who have used offshores is fuel for her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders.

Clinton has struggled throughout her campaign to indicate that she can relate to working Americans, while Sanders has cast her as a wealthy out-of-touch WA insider who's for speeches and received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from those tied to large businesses. Her connection to the Panama Papers, even if indirect, could magnify that perception.

Lee Miringoff, director of the , said it'd draw voters’ attention once again to Clinton’s ties to large money. “It certainly would play into Sanders’ narrative,” he said.

said Clinton’s support of a free-trade agreement between the U. S. and Panama – one that he claims has allowed the wealthy to avert paying taxes – should disqualify her from being the Democratic nominee for president.

“I don’t think you're qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has made it easier for wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avert paying taxes owed to their countries,” Sanders said recently.

To be sure, a long life in politics has allowed the Clintons to accumulate relationships to wealthy people and businesses across the globe.

One such connection is to , a one-time diamond miner from the volcanic island nation of Mauritius whose company was once based in Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Ark. In the mid one thousand nine hundred ninety, Boulle was listed as a director of Auk Limited, a British Virgin Islands offshore company, and Gridco Limited, a Bahamas offshore company.

After two meetings with Boulle, Bill Clinton, then-governor of Arkansas, signed legislation allowing his company to be engaged in in exploratory mining in the state. Later, Boulle and his wife attended Clinton’s first inauguration. Boulle’s company didn't reply to a message.

“Obviously there’s number wrongdoing – it’s a question of perception and values,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the , a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. “They’ve been in public life so long; when you enter that sphere you've these connections.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon declined to reply specific questions about her connections but referred to Clinton’s earlier comments that criticized the behavior latest week. Bill Clinton’s office and the Clinton Foundation declined to comment.

Also among the Clinton connections is Fialkoff, presently a senior adviser to NY Mayor Bill de Blasio and director of the city’s Office of Strategic Partnerships. She, her brother, Brett, and her late father, Frank, are listed as shareholders of UPAC Holdings Ltd, a British Virgin Islands offshore company inc in June two thousand twelve.

Gabrielle Fialkoff said in an email that she's “no knowledge” of the company and referred questions to her brother.

Brett Fialkoff, who serves as chief operating officer at his family’s business, Haskell Jewels, a New York-based designer, marketer and distributor of costume jewelry, initially told McClatchy he didn’t know why his family would be in the documents. Later, he said that someone must've opened an account in their names.

Still, later, he said he set up an offshore company to export accessories from China to the United States. The documents indicate the company’s files are registered in Beijing.

But, he said, he abandoned the new business to give more attention to his family’s jewelry company. He said there’s number money in any bank account overseas and declined to allow details about his compliance with U. S. tax laws.

“I have news for you: There is number money,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re not love Vladimir Putin, trying to hide money.”

The most recent Mossack Fonseca information of December two thousand fifteen shows the company remains active, registered on behalf of the Fialkoffs in the British Virgin Islands by a Hong Kong-based consulting company on June six, two thousand twelve. Brett Failkoff acknowledged the company is still “legally alive” but said it does not – nor has it ever – conducted any business.

Gabrielle Fialkoff, a longtime companion of de Blasio, was finance director for Clinton’s two thousand Senate campaign, which de Blasio managed. After serving as Haskell’s president and chief operating officer, she chaired de Blasio’s inauguration and led New York’s to host the Democratic National Conference in 2016.

She's been a regular donor to Democratic candidates, including Clinton, according to the , which tracks money in politics. She also donated between $250 and $1.000 to the Clinton Foundation. Her father donated to Clinton as well. Her brother contributed money to Republicans, including presidential candidates Ben Carson and Rand Paul.

Another connection is Giustra, the director of UrAsia Energy Ltd, a British Virgin Islands offshore company registered in May two thousand five.

The company wanted to “conduct uranium exploration, development, production and marketing operations and related activities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan,” according to a draft of the shareholders’ agreement.

UrAsia, based in British Columbia, Canada, in Sept 2005 to purchase uranium mines for $500 million in Kazakhstan, according to .

The deal came after Giustra joined Bill Clinton in Kazakhstan for the launch of a Clinton Foundation health initiative and dined with him and Kazakhstan’s president, among others. The timing prompted questions about whether Bill Clinton played any role in the agreement. Giustra denied that, saying it came after months of negotiations.

The following year, Giustra, who's also involved in filmmaking and founded Lionsgate Entertainment, made a donation of more than $30 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to published reports.

In total, Giustra has committed $100 million to the foundation, according to at least , though don’t give an exact amount, saying only that he's one of the largest individual donors giving more than $25 million. In two thousand-seventh, he started that bears his title and initially kept its donors secret despite a two thousand eight agreement between the Clintons and the Obama administration to create public foundation contributors.

Bill Clinton has flown around the globe on Giustra’s plane, sometimes with him, including to Kazakhstan.

Messages left for Giustra on his cell phone and by email and at several of his companies weren't returned.

Former fugitive billionaire Marc Rich’s title doesn’t show up in the Panama Papers, but his company does. The Bahamas offshore Industrial Petroleum Ltd was registered in one thousand nine hundred ninety-second, established by the commodities firm Glencore International in Switzerland, inactivated in 2001.

The allegations against Rich, who died in two thousand-thirteenth, ranged from tax evasion to trading with Iran despite bans to selling oil to S Africa’s apartheid government. He fled to Switzerland in one thousand nine hundred eighty-third, but before the pardon, his ex-wife Denise made a $450.000 donation to Clinton’s presidential lib in Tiny Rock.

Rich’s business partners show up in the data too. And they also give generously to the Clinton Foundation.

Sergei Kurzin, a Russian engineer and investor, appears in a draft shareholders agreement in partnership with Giustra in the British Virgin Islands offshore UrAsia Energy Ltd. Kurzin worked closely with Wealthy in the one thousand nine hundred ninety looking for opportunities in the former Soviet Union when it was opened to mining and oil investment.

Kurzin, who's given the Clinton Foundation between , appears in the Panama Papers as the director and chairman of various oil companies. Kurzin was also a partner in the involving Giustra.

In a two thousand nine interview , the British-Russian dual citizen boasted of giving generously to a Clinton-Giustra initiative, noting: “I wrote a check for a million dollars. I don’t think you can call it a small amount.”

Messages left for Kurzin weren't returned this weekend.

Also in the Panama Papers is Ronald Chagoury, who along with brother Gilbert leads the Chagoury Group, a Nigerian family-run construction business. The brothers were associated with Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, who died in one thousand nine hundred ninety-eighth, and did business with Glencore and Rich, according to .

Ronald Chagoury appears in the Panama Papers as the main shareholder of Echo Art Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands.

In two thousand-ninth, the Chagoury Grouping pledged $1 billion in coastal erosion projects to the Clinton Global Initiative, an offshoot of the foundation, initiative's website.

The Chagoury Grouping is building Eko Atlantic, a peninsula city adjacent to Lagos that'll be reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. The cites the Clinton Global Initiative’s compliment for it as an “environmentally conscious city” below construction.

Gilbert Chagoury’s ties to the Clintons stretch back years. He's given to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and has donated between $1 million to $5 million to Clinton Foundation, show. In two thousand-third he organized a ride to the Caribbean where Bill $100.000 for a speech.

Messages left for the Chagourys weren't returned this weekend.

Another businessman in the Panama papers, Ng, is listed as a shareholder of two British Virgin Islands companies – S S News International Grouping Limited in May two thousand ten and GOLUCK Ltd. in 2004.

He leads a genuine estate development company in Macau, China, and is one of the world’s wealthiest people. He was accused in one thousand nine hundred ninety-sixth of sending more than $1.1 million to a Little Rock restaurant owner who then contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee, according to a one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight .

The restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws. Ng wasn't charged. Another congressional report criticized Ng and others for failing to cooperate during the investigation.

Published reports declare Ng visited the White House ten times from one thousand nine hundred ninety-four to one thousand nine hundred ninety-six, had his photograph taken with Bill and Hillary Clinton, sat beside Bill Clinton at an event at a WA hotel, and rode in an elevator with Hillary Clinton.

Latest year, Ng was charged with bribing a United Nations official and lying about what he was doing with $4.5 million in cash he brought into the U. S. over two years. Investigators declare instead of spending it at casinos or on art, antiques or genuine estate, he used the money for bribes as he sought investments in Antigua and China. Another man listed in the same criminal complaint is president of the New York-based S S News, the same title of the British Virgin Islands company.

Ng’s lawyer, Kevin Tung, has said that his charges are based on a misunderstanding. Tung, Benjamin Brafman and Hugh Mo, two others who are or have represented Ng, didn't reply to requests for comment.

In two thousand-eleventh, Sanders predicted in that the Panama trade deal would create it easier for the wealthy to cover their cash in Panama.

“I wish I'd been proven incorrect about this, but it's presently arrive to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I'd feared,” he said in a statement earlier this month.

Hillary Clinton had opposed the deal in two thousand-eighth when she was running for president. But later, as secretary of state, she helped thrust the agreement through Congress. Her supporters, however, declare that the trade pact didn't open the door to extra tax evasion.

A Democrat-controlled Senate approved the trade deal. In October two thousand twelve, then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., lauded the deal’s “strong speech to crack down on tax evasion and money-laundering in Panama.”

Both Clinton and Sanders have vowed to go after Americans who attempt to cover their wealth.

Clinton said she'd close down what she called the private tax system for the wealthy while Sanders has said he'd finish the trade deal with Panama within six months and inquire into U. S. banks, corporations and individuals stashing their cash in Panama to avoid taxes.

“We’re going after all these scams and create sure that everyone pays their objective share here in America,” she said. “I’m going to keep them accountable, and we’re going to have a special effort to track all these resources wherever they might lead.”

Munich’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper was given the files, which were shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

11.5 million emails and client records. It'd take twenty-four hours to download the 2.6 terabytes at normal internet speeds.

More than three hundred fifty journalists, including a U. S. McClatchy reporting team, in seventy-seventh countries examined the data.

twelve current and former heads of state and government, sixty-one relatives and associates of leaders, and one hundred twenty-eight other public officials.

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