Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved a series of deals that gave Russia’s atomic energy agency control of one-fifth of the uranium produced in the U.S. as major stakeholders in the transaction donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
The New York Times published the bombshell expose Wednesday night. The article advances on information contained in Peter Schweizer’s highly-anticipated book, “Clinton Cash.” The book, set to be released May 5, has generated major pushback from the Clinton camp which claims that it is conservative propaganda.
The uranium deal begins with Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining tycoon, who has pledged $100 million to the Clinton Foundation.
Giustra formed a company in the mid-2000s called UrAsia Energy which sought mining rights in Kazakhstan. Giustra obtained those rights after a fortuitous Sept. 6, 2005, meeting with Kazakhstan’s authoritarian president Nursultan Nazarbayev. Bill Clinton flew with Giustra on his private jet to the Central Asian nation, and sat in on that hours-long talk.
Following that meeting, Clinton went on public television to praise Nazarbayev, who has been accused of rigging elections and other human rights violations. Days after this appearance, which The Times’ reporter, Jo Becker, characterizes in her article as a propaganda ploy, the Kazakh government signed off on a deal that granted Giustra’s UrAsia access to its mines.
After this, Giustra gave Clinton’s foundation a $31 million donation. Giustra also pledged to donate another $100 million to the charity. Giustra has denied that any money was given to the Clinton charity in exchange for help with business. He has said that his work with Clinton is centered on humanitarian and philanthropic efforts.
In 2007, UrAsia merged with a South African company called Uranium One in a $3.5 billion deal. Uranium One’s chairman was Ian Tefler, a longtime business partner of Giustra’s who donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2012. Giustra said he sold his stake in Uranium One in 2007.
Adding to the suspicious nature of Tefler’s donation, which passed through a private foundation set up in Canada, the Fernwood Foundation, is that the Clinton Foundation did not include it on its donors list. Hillary Clinton promised to release the full donor list when she agreed to serve as secretary of state in the Obama White House.
That omission provides more fodder for critics who have accused the Clintons of being overly secretive regarding their charity’s operations.
Two series of transactions involving uranium mining unfolded at around the same time which eventually ceded control of 20 percent of the uranium produced in the U.S. to the Russians.
Uranium One was gobbling up uranium plays throughout the western U.S. while Russia’s Rosatom was seeking to ramp up its investment in Uranium One. That effectively served as a backdoor for Russia to gain access to American uranium.
In June 2009, Uranium One leaned on the American Embassy in Kazakhstan to approve a deal that would allow a subsidiary of Rosatom, ARMZ, to purchase a 17 percent stake of the company.
Rosatom, through ARMZ, pushed for a larger stake the next year. It offered Uranium One shareholders a deal which would allow it to control 51 percent of the company.
As Rosatom’s offer for the majority stake in Uranium One was still up in the air, Bill Clinton profited personally by giving a speech in Moscow which was paid for by a Russian investment bank, Renaissance Capital. Renaissance Capital also happened to be a major promoter of Uranium One stock, The Times reported.
Four members of Congress and Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, wrote President Obama condemning the proposed deal. Barrasso said it was “alarming” that Russia wanted to gain access to domestic uranium. Uranium One shareholders were also concerned that Rosatom was a “Russian state agent,” according to The Times.
Despite those concerns, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel made up of members of the various U.S. cabinets, approved the deal.
The Times was unable to report if Clinton herself weighed in on the decision to approve the transaction. However, Clinton has been described as a micromanager of State Department decisions.
The majority stake in Uranium One gave Russia control of one-fifth of the uranium produced in the U.S., The Times notes. The concern about that control is not over the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but, rather, control of a major source of nuclear energy production.