21:42 GMT12 June 2021
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    The Clintons fundraising activities have long been raising justified concerns. However, foreign investigations into the Clinton Foundation's activities are moving too slowly. Apparently, the probes could generate embarrassment and even legal exposures for foreign governments involved, Charles Ortel assumed speaking to Sputnik.

    Hillary Clinton goes on with her effort named Onward Together aimed at funding and supporting a coalition of Democratic groups opposing Donald Trump's policies.

    According to Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed, Clinton has recently enlisted Emmy Ruiz and Adam Parkhomenko — political operatives from her 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns — to help manage the organization.

    The journalist added that "some of the fundraising work has already started."

    "Veteran Fundraisers"

    Undoubtedly, while the Clintons deserve to be called "veteran fundraisers," the problem is that many of their endeavors raise questions and suspicions.

    Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who exposed financial fraud at General Electric back in 2007, is proceeding with his private investigation into the alleged fraud of the Clinton Foundation.

    In his previous interviews with Sputnik, the analyst shed light on the Clintons' largest endeavor called CHAI (The Clinton Health Access Initiative) highlighting that the endeavor "has never been organized lawfully at any time."

    What's more disturbing, however, is that many foreign governments had jumped on the CHAI bandwagon with no questions asked.

    "Either way — the numerous foreign governments that seem to be associated with Clinton 'charities' have behaved deplorably," Ortel told Sputnik commenting on the matter.

    He cited a document released by Judicial Watch that was signed in November/December 2008 and lists a large number of purported foreign government donors, including Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, Sweden, Canada, France, Denmark, Norway and the Dominican Republic.

    The HIV/AIDS issue took on a new significance in the early 2000s, when the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — "a financing institution, providing support to countries in the response to the three diseases" — was founded in 2002.

    The same year the Clintons kicked off their HIV/AIDS initiative pledging to dramatically decrease the cost of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

    "[Then] in January 2003, George W. Bush announced a massive shift in US policy, significantly increasing the sums that our [American] government would send abroad to 'Fight HIV/AIDS'," Ortel recalled.

    In 2006 a new organization named Unitaid entered the stage.

    The entity was founded with the assistance of former US President Bill Clinton and then French President Jacques Chirac. It was officially established by the governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom.

    For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to help Unitaid by operating as the host organization.

    Unitaid was initially "proposed as an innovative mechanism to accelerate access to high-quality drugs and diagnostics for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria patients," Jeremiah Norris, the director of the Center for Science in Public Policy at Hudson Institute, wrote in his 2006 analytical report.

    The Clintons' charity was the only private foundation mentioned by name in Unitaid's founding documents, which could be regarded as a sign that the organization saw it as its key partner.

    "The Clinton Foundation will work with manufacturers and national governments to organize the markets of HIV/AIDS commodities to lower the prices of medicines and diagnostics. It will provide technical assistance to ensure the delivery of commodities," Hudson elaborated citing Unitaid documents.

    US President Bill Clinton (L) and presidential advisor Ira Magaziner (R) greet guests during an electronic commerce event 01 July at the White House in Washington, DC on July 1, 1997. Clinton hosted the event which promotes commerce on an international scale using the internet
    © AFP 2021 / STEPHEN JAFFE
    US President Bill Clinton (L) and presidential advisor Ira Magaziner (R) greet guests during an electronic commerce event 01 July at the White House in Washington, DC on July 1, 1997. Clinton hosted the event which promotes commerce on an international scale using the internet

    However, judging from Unitaid papers, the matters related to the guarantees of the drugs' quality remained unclear, the scholar noted.

    Hudson called attention to the Unitaid Memorandum of Understanding. The memo referred to "privileges and immunities" of the World Health Organization (WHO) which "shall apply to the staff, funds, properties, and assets supplied to or for the use of the Secretariat of Unitaid."

    Indeed, in accordance with the International Organizations Act, no United Nations (UN) body can be held to legal suit in any jurisdiction.

    "For instance, if the Clinton Foundation purchases sub-standard pharmaceutical products on behalf of Unitaid, which subsequently accelerate drug resistance and mutation of the AIDS virus, the affected patients would be unable to seek redress for medical malpractice," Hudson explained back in 2006.

    It appears that Hudson's concerns were justified.

    How CHAI Turned a Blind Eye to Ranbaxy's Glaring Misdeeds

    Citing a report by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, namely "The Clinton Foundation and The 'India Success Story': Self-Serving Philanthropy, Watered Down Drugs, and Money in sub-Saharan Africa," Ortel recalled that one of the Clinton charity's major suppliers of cheap generic drugs for African HIV/AIDS sufferers was Ranbaxy, which later pleaded guilty for selling adulterated ARVs.

    The shameful story of Ranbaxy's activities was described in detail by Katherine Eban of Fortune.

    The journalist cited a former Ranbaxy's employee, Kathy Spreen, who said that she found out that "crucial testing data for many of the company's drugs did not actually exist and submissions to regulators had been forged" as early as 2004.

    However, the company's leadership had no scruples about selling adulterated drugs to sub-Saharan Africa.

    "Who cares? It's just blacks dying," one Ranbaxy executive said, as quoted by Spreen.

    The question arises whether the Clintons were aware that their major ARVs supplier produced watered-down drugs?

    "The earliest evidence I have found of collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and Ranbaxy is in October 2003," Ortel told Sputnik.

    Still, in 2004 WHO issued an official release that three of Ranbaxy's main anti-HIV/AIDS ARVs were removed from its list of recommended drugs, throwing into question their efficiency and quality, Blackburn's report highlighted.

    It seems questionable that the Clintons could have missed this. Nevertheless, CHAI didn't halt its cooperation with the firm. Furthermore, it appeared that the issue had also been overlooked by CHAI's generous foreign donors.

    "I cannot come up with good reasons why smart people at the Clinton Foundation would stay involved with Ranbaxy and with other manufacturers of HIV/AIDS drugs and test kits that were not regulated closely enough by governments," the Wall Street analyst stressed.

    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, talks with doctors during his visit with some patients with HIV/AIDS, at the Robert Reid Cabral hospital in Santo Domingo, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
    © AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa
    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, talks with doctors during his visit with some patients with HIV/AIDS, at the Robert Reid Cabral hospital in Santo Domingo, Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Ortel cited the agreement concluded by Ranbaxy and the Clinton Foundation adding that "it is… mentioned the Ranbaxy Annual Report for 2003 but it is not filed anywhere I have seen inside the United States."

    "As it is described, the agreement seems to obligate the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to promote the purchase of Ranbaxy drugs, and therefore strikes me as a 'business development' agreement that normally would not be proper for a 'charity' to sign or undertake," Ortel stressed.

    "Moreover, the existence of such an agreement seems to be a material fact that donor nations and procurement partners (of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Procurement Consortium) should know, prior to working with the Clinton Foundation. Did they?" the Wall Street analyst asked rhetorically.

    The Clintons financial transactions also deserve special attention, he noted.

    "In the Clinton charity case, ongoing review of federal tax disclosures suggests that donors gave substantially more to the [Clinton] charities, then the Clinton charities disclose as having been spent on pharmaceuticals, this variance is particularly true for the period 2006 through 2010 looking at publicly disclosed grants to Clinton entities by Unitaid, governments and large donors including the Gates Foundation and the US and UK entities called 'Children's Investment Fund Foundation.'"

    What's Behind Foreign Gov'ts Reluctance to Catch the Clintons Red-handed?

    Why then have foreign governments sponsoring Unitaid and CHAI not raised an alarm over the alleged financial fraud?

    "As a guess, the massive and ongoing support provided by Unitaid starting in November 2006 to illegally organized and operated Clinton 'charities' is impossible to explain without generating acute embarrassment and even legal exposures for individuals and [foreign governments] involved," Ortel stressed.

    Apparently, therefore, according to the analyst, foreign investigations into the Clinton Foundation's activities and cooperation with Unitaid are moving too slowly.

    "In December 2009, a French government body (the Cours de Comptes) did start an intensive probe of Unitaid and of its various operations. This report was finished in 2010 and then discussed in the French Assemble (the equivalent of the US House of Representatives)," he noted.

    "While these activities did expose certain information that should raise concerns in many legal jurisdictions (including France), so far, governments that could act to investigate and prosecute evident wrongdoing have not yet seen fit to act," Ortel pointed out.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


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