The controversial former leader of India’s Samajwad Party (Socialist Party) donated up to $5 million of his own money – amounting to his total declared wealth – to the family foundation of Bill and Hilary Clinton, a new book claims.
Amar Singh, who is thought to be close friends of the Clintons, is said to have made a contribution of between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to ‘Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich’.
The book, by academic and political consultant Peter Schweizer, is an investigation into donations made to the Foundation by foreign entities.
The Clinton Foundation, founded in 2001, is one of the world’s biggest non-profit foundations. Its donors include governments such as Norway, Saudi Arabia and Oman to individuals such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Formula One legend Michael Schumacher.
Schweizer’s book claims that Singh’s contribution to the Foundation came in 2008 and amounts to between 20% and 100% of his total declared wealth of the time – raising questions as to the true source of the funds.
The donation was made at a time when the US Congress was debating a nuclear agreement between the United States and India. The nuclear pact, which eventually paved the way for the US to export civil nuclear technology to India, was supported by then-Senator Hillary Clinton.
Schweizer suggests that Singh had been a “conduit” used by “powerful forces” in India pushing for approval of the deal, which had faced significant opposition in the United States where the export of nuclear technologies, even for civilian purposes, is severely restricted.
Singh has been evasive about the contribution. According to the book, Singh has gone on record as saying that he had merely “facilitated” the payment which “could have been made by someone else” on his behalf. The contribution’s link to him was “erroneous” he contends.
Singh, whose contacts list includes everyone from Amitabh Bachchan to billionaire Anil Ambani, first met Bill Clinton in 2005 through disgraced Indian-American hotelier Sant Chatwal. Days later, Clinton invited Singh to the highly-exclusive Clinton Global Initiative meet in New York.
The Clinton Foundation declared Singh’s 2008 donation.
Schweizer’s book contends that foreign individuals and entities who made donations to the Clinton Foundation – now officially known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation – received favours from the US State Department at the time when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favourable U.S. policy decisions benefitting those providing the funds”, Schweizer writes.
The release of the book comes just weeks after Mrs Clinton declared her intention to contest in the 2016 presidential election. Her White House bid means that her financial affairs will come under intense scrutiny, in particular the inner workings of the Clinton Foundation.
Since its founding in 2001, the Foundation is thought to have raised more than $2 billion for its stated aim of “strengthening the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence”.
The Foundation has been hailed for its charitable work, particularly in the developing world, but has also attracted criticism for its largesse. Between 2009 and 2012, it gave away just 15% of contributions in charitable grants. A leading Washington-based campaign group once described the Foundation as a “slush fund” for the Clintons.
Amar Singh is equally polarizing.
His supporters have included leading lights from Bollywood, Indian industry and politics. He has also been the subject of numerous controversies – from bounced cheques and cash-for-votes in parliament to embarrassingly intimate phone-taps, one allegedly featuring a dusky Bollywood beauty.