In 2005, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton cancelled meetings with Kazakh officials in an apparent attempt to force the country to approve a lucrative uranium mining deal that would benefit a Clinton associate, a Kazakh energy executive said in a 2009 interview.
Former Kazatoprom executive Mukhtar Dzhakishev’s videotaped interview has been reported before — in 2010 by The Washington Post. But it flew under the radar until author Peter Schweizer’s revisited it in his new book, “Clinton Cash,” which was released Tuesday.
Dzhakishev said that in 2005, Clinton pressured Kazakhstan to approve a deal being sought by UrAsia Energy, a Canadian company whose main investor was mining magnate Frank Giustra.
Giustra is a close associate of Bill Clinton’s and a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.
According to Schweizer’s translation of Dzhakishev’s interview, Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov “was in America and needed to meet with Hillary Clinton, but this meeting was canceled.”
“And they said that those investors connected with the Clintons who were working in Kazakhstan have problems. Until Kazakhstan solved those problems, there would be no meeting, and all manner of measures would be taken.”
Dzhakishev said he was then instructed by Massimov to fix the problem. He also said that he was contacted by Tim Phillips, an adviser to Bill Clinton at the time, who told him that there would be no meeting with Hillary Clinton until the Kazakhs removed a major roadblock hindering the deal.
According to a Feb. 2010, Washington Post article, the hold-up centered on a law that the Kazakh government had recently passed concerning deals between private companies for natural resources.
According to The Post’s interpretation of Dzhakishev’s interview, he said that “investors who currently work in Kazakhstan and have ties to Clinton have problems and meetings will be resumed only after Kazakhstan resolves the problems.”
He also said that he got an earful from Phillips.
“I called them, and they came. I met them in Astana and then Clinton’s aide, Tim Phillips, began to scream that this deal involves Democrats and is financed by them, and that we were hampering the deal.”
Phillips did not respond to The Post at the time. Clinton and Giustra have long denied that the Clintons used their power to influence the deal.
But the deal was secured in Sept. 2005 after Giustra and Clinton flew to Kazakhstan on Giustra’s private jet. There, Clinton met with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Clinton spoke glowingly in public about the authoritarian Nazarbayev, and days later, the uranium deal was approved.
UrAsia and Giustra profited handsomely, and the company eventually merged with Uranium One. Uranium One, in turn, was packed with Giustra associates and was eventually taken over by Russia-controlled Rosatom. The takeover, which was approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and other federal agencies, gave Russia control of 20 percent of uranium produced in the U.S.
In its 2010 article, The Post considers that Dzhakishev’s account is questionable. Dzhakishev was accused of embezzling funds from Kazatoprom and removed from the company in 2009. However, as Schweizer notes, leaked diplomatic cables show that U.S. ambassador Richard Hoaglund believed that Dzhakishev was receiving harsh treatment because he was allied with a political foe of President Nazarbayev.
“In a portion of the video that could cast doubt on his account, Dzhakishev misstated the size of Giustra’s donation, saying it was $300 million, and voiced vague suspicions of a scheme to manipulate world uranium prices,” The Post reported.
But according to Schweizer, who hired Dr. David Meyer to translate Dzhakishev’s interview, the Kazakh said that Giustra made $300 million on the UrAsia transaction.
Regardless, Dzhakishev has proven more truthful than Giustra and Clinton in at least one regard.
Dzhakishev told The New York Times that in Feb. 2007 he met with Clinton and Giustra at Clinton’s Chappaqua, N.Y. home. He said that Giustra arranged the three-hour meeting to discuss Kazakhstan’s desire to purchase a 10 percent stake in Westinghouse, a U.S. company which supplies nuclear energy technology.
According to The Times, both Clinton and Giustra initially denied that such a meeting occurred.
Giustra admitted to The Times after being asked about the discrepancy: “You are correct that I asked the president to meet with the head of Kazatomprom. Mr. Dzhakishev asked me in February 2007 to set up a meeting with former President Clinton to discuss the future of the nuclear energy industry.”
A Clinton spokesman told The Times: “Today, Mr. Giustra told our office that in February 2007, he brought Mr. Dzhakishev from Kazatomprom to meet with President Clinton to discuss the future of nuclear energy.”