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Bill Clinton's early days in tax-exempt business - and his original sin in The Bahamas tax haven

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This is an extract from a lengthy article in the October 2007 edition of The Atlantic magazine based on interviews with Clinton, Magaziner and others around that time.  It's significant that the presentation of the HIV/Aids work is consistently business, not charity focussed.   The headline is the magazine's July 2002, when the foundation had only 12 employees (it now has hundreds working on HIV/AIDS alone), he and Nelson Mandela went to an AIDS conference in Spain, where the prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small Caribbean country, said to him, “You know, we don’t have a denial problem, we don’t have a stigma problem. We have a money and an organizational problem.” The foundation began its AIDS efforts that year in the Bahamas.

Although the foundation asked for aggressive “forward pricing” to kick-start demand, it pointedly did not ask for donations or charity. “To be sustainable,” says Magaziner, “this can’t be a charitable act.” Rather, the foundation was offering a business proposition: If we get you the demand, can you get us the supply?

Clinton takes particular pride in the fact that the companies that collaborated in cutting prices did not sacrifice profits. “I haven’t asked anybody to give us anything,” he said in our interview. “All we did was ask the drug manufacturers to adopt a different business strategy. Once we got smooth distribution, quick, certain payment, and really high volumes, they were still making money. They just made it in a different way.” To him, profit is necessary and entirely legitimate, a point he makes to anyone who will listen—for example, at the May press conference in New York, where he declared, “I think it’s wrong to ask anyone to lose money.” 

The approach was pure McKinsey: novel in its application, but routine in its methods, as Clinton himself is the first to point out. “This is not Einstein,” he says. “We didn’t develop the theory of relativity here. All we did was take something that people would naturally do in a purely business context and apply it to the public-goods market.

Here's a recording of Clinton being interviewed at the time.

In 2001 when Bill Clinton left the White House the Clinton Foundation was busy raising money as the dozen other US Presidential Archival Depositories had done before it.

The 2001 IRS 990 is exclusively concerned with funding and building his presidential library, with revenues of $10M, expenses of $3M and nett assets of $13M.  There's no other activity.

On 24 April 2001 the barriers to cheaper generic drugs started to fall like dominos after a sustained 3 year campaign against drug companies.

Drug Companies Drop Case Against S. African Government

At a hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, on 19 April, Fanie Cilliers, a lawyer representing the 39 pharmaceutical companies involved in the case, announced, "with the consent of all parties, I simply ask to notify (that) the application is withdrawn." The companies also agreed to pay all the costs of the case. Mirryena Deeb, chief executive of the South African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association (PMA) said that the lawsuit was dropped as a "result of a negotiating process"

On 27 April 2001 Clinton was in Abuja, Nigeria for the African Aids summit on behalf of the United Nations

Clinton urges U.S. to back AIDS fund

April 27, 2001

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has urged his country to give more money to a global AIDS fund suggested by the U.N.

Speaking at the African AIDS summit in Abuja where U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced his plan, Clinton said raising $7 billion a year to fight AIDS would not be too difficult, with $1.75 billion coming from the U.S..

"That's about the same amount the U.S. government spent last year on office supplies," said Clinton, who stepped down last January after a second four-year term.


Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 3.48.17 amIn July 2001 The New York Times reports Clinton move into a taxpayer funded $261,450 per year leased 8,300-square-foot office on the top floor of a newly renovated 14-story building at 55 West 125th St New York.

In Harlem, a Hero's Welcome For New Neighbor Clinton

Former President William Jefferson Clinton officially began his post-presidency in Harlem yesterday in front of an adoring audience that gave no acknowledgment that he had ever left office.

Since leaving office in January, Mr. Clinton has struggled to construct his civilian identity. He spent weeks fending off questions about a series of last-minute pardons, and has given dozens of well-paid speeches as part of an effort to pay off his legal bills. He plans to write his memoirs, and to raise money for the Democratic Party and his presidential library in Arkansas.

He has kept a low profile, but he shed it yesterday, taking the opportunity to outline his public service priorities for the coming months.

He said he wanted to promote economic opportunity here and abroad, to help the fight against AIDS, globally and locally, and ''to try to help people make a community from the great diversity we've got,'' whether in Harlem or around the world.

Starting July 30, Clinton will work in Harlem whenever he's not traveling, spokeswoman Julia Payne said.


November 2001 - PR Firm hired by Aids Trust to promote Clinton's Princess Diana Memorial Speech - Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative later receives $3.5M  from the Diana Memorial fundScreen Shot 2016-09-09 at 5.54.11 am

PUBLIC SECTOR: Edelman hired to promote Clinton speech on Aids

The former US president is the guest speaker at this year's Princess Diana Memorial lecture, which will take place at an as-yet-unconfirmed London venue on 13 December.

Edelman's health division will support National Aids Trust's promotion of the event and handle media relations with a focus on the health and consumer press.

As part of Edelman's brief it has also been working on the lead up to World Aids Day, which takes place on Saturday.

Clinton was appointed earlier this year as chairman of the International Aids Trust's advisory board.

5 May 2002 As Chair of the Aids Trust Clinton makes "a strong plea for developing countries to use the opportunities" to buy cheaper generic drugs made available because of the "historic court victory" on the manufacture of generic medicines in April

Clinton slams 'tragedy' of Aids drug inertia

 / 5 May 2002, 10:46pm John Battersby

New York - Former US President Bill Clinton has made a stong plea for developing countries to use the opportunities presented by the historic court victory on the manufacture of generic medicines last April when the major pharmaceutical companies withdrew their action against the South African government.

"Why don't we hear anything about this now?" Clinton asked at a question-and-answer session with journalists attending a two-day seminar at Columbia University on covering the global Aids crisis.

Clinton is due to visit South Africa in September to launch the International Aids Trust jointly with former president Nelson Mandela.

"I asked President Mandela to co-chair the Aids Trust and he agreed," Clinton said. He said he would visit the loveLife project to change sexual conduct among South Africa's youth.

May 2002 International Aids Trust gets contract from UN as coordinating partner for all UN Aids activity in US

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12 July 2002 Clinton and Mandela as Co Chairs close final session of International Aids Trust, Barcelona Conference - each praises business and the Gates Foundation for work done on behalf of the Trust  Clinton's speech. Mandela's speech.

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Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 4.28.57 amClinton later tells Atlantic magazine that he met Prime Minister Detril Douglas of St Kitts (representing the Caribbean) at this conference - Clinton is unabashed in stating that as a result of meeting him he immediately travelled to and established his HIV/Aids Initiative in The Bahamas.

Having taken on the role of Chairing the Aids Trust, along with the UN Contract for all its Aids initiatives in the US, it's difficult to understand Clinton's rationale for subsequently using a contact and information he gained at the UN meeting as the basis for the Clinton Foundation pouncing on the "business, this is not charity" opportunity. 

In the commercial world the conflict of interest would be unforgivable.  Recall Clinton's May observation that developing countries could now "use the opportunities" presented by the historic court victory on the manufacture of generic medicines last April when the major pharmaceutical companies withdrew their action against the South African government.

"Why don't we hear anything about this now?" Sounds like Bill was thinking about using the opportunities himself.


 August 2002  This Press Release from the Clinton Foundation confirms it has been working in the Bahamas since August 2002 when  invited by the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) to help address the HIV/AIDS crisis.

An IRS Registered US charity the Lyford Cay Foundation later records a donation to "Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative - Bahamas" giving its address as 55 West 125th Street, New York, the same address as Clinton's taxpayer funded Presidential Office.  The Lyford Cay Foundation's IRS 990 return was prepared by Deloitte LLP and the Foundation is domiciled at the firm Putney, Twombley, Hall and Hirson 5th Avenue New York.  Entries on the 990 show a particularly fastidious approach to correct presentation of entity names.

Given Clinton's statement about work commencing on HIV/Aids in 2002 and the absence of any reference to HIV/Aids "work" in the Foundation's annual report until 2004, it's reasonable to think "Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative - Bahamas" or a similar entity in The Bahamas may have been the first Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids entity.

Clinton is quoted in The Atlantic magazine above as having put Ira Magaziner on to commence work on the HIV/Aids Initiative in 2002 

December 2002 - A UN Report records the Bahamas Health Ministry contracted with Clinton for this

Strategic Plan for Scaling UP HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment in The Bahamas 2003-2005: Proposal to the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Foundation, Ministry of Health, December 2002.

2002 IRS 990 Clinton Foundation reports activities and revenue exclusively associated with the Library.   There is no appearance of any funding for HIV/Aids activities.

April 2003 - Clinton returns to The Bahamas.  This press release names the "Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative" with staff in 12 Caribbean countries and 3 African nations.

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President Clinton will visit the The Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti April 4-8, 2003. The Caribbean region is experiencing the second-fastest growth rate of HIV infection in the world.

During this trip, President Clinton will participate in HIV/AIDS related meetings and events in each country. He will deliver a major speech on Friday, April 4th in the Bahamas addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. President Clinton will also visit an AIDS clinic at the Princess Margaret Hospital. With assistance from the Clinton Foundation, the Government of the Bahamas has finished a business plan that calls for providing access to needed care and antiretroviral therapy (ARV) for all HIV-positive persons within 3 years. In addition, the Clinton Foundation successfully negotiated ARV drug costs in the Bahamas down from $3,800 per person, per year to less than $500. With this reduction, seven people can be put on ARVs for the same cost as one.

The Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative team, comprised of care and treatment professionals and business people, are located in 12 nations in the Caribbean and three nations in Africa. They work with the governments and organizations in those nations to assist in the development and implementation of strategies for the effective HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs.

President Clinton serves as co-chair of the Advisory Board of the International AIDS Trust with President Nelson Mandela. In September 2002, President Clinton visited five African nations (Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda , Mozambique, South Africa ) in a trip focused on HIV/AIDS and the economic empowerment of poor people. He also met with the leaders of 6 Caribbean nations to discuss HIV/AIDS in a visit to St. Lucia in January.

This from the Kerzner Atlantis HIV/Aids Initiative - its press release about Clinton's trip.    

Kerzner International Limited (NYSE:   KZL), owner and operator of the
 Ocean Club and Atlantis, Paradise Island resorts, is spearheading the Atlantis
 HIV/AIDS Initiative to raise $1 million from the private sector in support of
 the Bahamian Government and The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential
     (Photo: )
     Sol Kerzner, Chairman and CEO of Kerzner International Limited, hosted a
 dinner at the Ocean Club. In attendance were the Prime Minister of The
 Bahamas, The Honorable Perry Christie; Minister of Health, The Honorable
 Marcus Bethel and other dignitaries and luminaries including Sir Sean Connery,
 Camille Barnett, President of the Bahamas AIDS Foundation, Guy Richard, CEO of
 Imperial Life Financial.
     The former President was in The Bahamas in his capacity as head of the
 William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Foundation, which was invited by The
 Bahamas to assist in the HIV/AIDS initiative.  The Foundation has assisted in
 developing a business plan for the initiative and in negotiating agreements to
 provide more affordable AIDS drugs in The Bahamas.

The Atlantis HIV/Aids Initiative is closely associated with Michael Jordan the US basketball player.  It has been in operation since 1991.

This from Inspyr, a US Sporting magazine.

A Tribute to Michael Jordan on His 50th Birthday

Michael Jordan is more than just a basketball super-star or a sports icon, his play on the court as well as his contributions off of it have inspired millions around the world.

MJ hosts the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational where athletes from all sports come together to playfully compete, but more importantly to raise money for the Atlantis HIV/AIDS initiative as well as Jordan’s other charities.

The Kerzner Atlantis HIV/Aids Initiative would go on to win the 2006 Global Business Coalition on HIV/Aids award for achieving the goals it set in 2001.

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KERZNER: In 2001, Kerzner began hosting the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament at its Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort. For the past five years, the company has produced a highly lucrative celebrity-studded event featuring such high-powered names as Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Chris Tucker, Bill Clinton, John McEnroe, Barry Bonds, Mia Hamm, and Angie Everhart. Half of the proceeds from this annual event benefit the Kerzner HIV/AIDS Initiative, which has achieved its financial goal. By January 2006, a total of 2,000 Bahamians were receiving ARV treatment at a cost of US$140 per patient, a significant decrease from the original $3,500 price tag the drugs once fetched.

The Kerzner/Michael Jordan goal was set in 2001 and financed by the Kerzner Atlantis HIV/Aids Initiative (which was formed in 1991).

As Kerzner was being congratulated for its achievement, the identical numbers were trotted out in a Clinton Foundation release as being achieved by the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative

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President Bill Clinton traveled to the Bahamas yesterday to host Bahamian government officials including Prime Minister Christie and partners in his foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative. The Clinton Foundation has been working in the Bahamas since August 2002 when they were invited by the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) to help address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Bahamas.

Since that time the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative wrote and completed a national care and treatment plan for the Bahamas. When the Clinton Foundation began working in the Bahamas, 470 people were receiving antiretroviral therapy; by the end of 2005, there were nearly 2,000

The 2003 IRS 990 return is much the same as 2002.   Both adopted the unhelpful Cash Accounting method of reporting, rather than accrual with matching of revenues and expenses.

There is no apparent 

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There are no reported subsidiary entities

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And the purposes for which it's working remain unchanged

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The only possible line item that may have been drawn on is a $1.8M project - but it's reported as being for the defined Foundation purposes.

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We need to look elsewhere for the start of the Clinton Foundation's HIV/Aids business.

By the end of 2004, the Clinton Foundation was reporting a separate HIV/Aids operation in its consolidated annual report.

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And the decidedly non-glossy annual report carries this unintelligible financial report based on the foundation's fraud-friendly cash accounting.

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The Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative Inc's numbers look like this - it's operating Cash Accounting as well.

It brought in $5.8M - with the Foundation financials reporting $4M for HIV/Aids.  AT line 1b of the Initiative report below is a $1.9M "indirect public support" which should be explained in Statement One attached to the 990.  This is the IRS stamped copy as received by the IRS and it is missing that Statement 1.

The expenses reported above line up with the financials below

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Now for a closer look at HIV/Aids Initiative's outrageous expenses.

$800,000 in salaries producing almost 3 times their salaries in travel expenses?????????  $2.3M in travel seems a lot.

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Then there's $2.1 extra in these expenses

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Here's the Foundation Balance Sheet.

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Perhaps someone clever in the accounting caper can take a stab at the zero assets at the start of year on the 990?

The Foundation financials show a nett asset at the beginning of the year of $1.8M for HIV/Aids (not on the Balance Sheet though mind you!)

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In keeping with the general weirdness of the Clinton Foundation, there's a Revenue line item 1b

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That approximates the $1.8M booked to Program Expenses by Foundation in 2003.

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One last recap of the years leading up to Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative INC 

Here are Foundation expenses for 2001,2002 and 2003 - watch the salaries line.

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In 2003 everything in the 990 is shipped into management, general and fundraising salaries, plus the $1.8M program that might have been transmitted into the HIV/AIDS Initiative Inc once it was incorporated.

This has the look and feel of 'further enquiries please"......

And as a complete aside - check out the direct mail expense of $1.8M PLUS the consultants Obrien McConnel Pearson who are a direct mail house as well!   Add into the mix a wife who's a Senator and maintainer of a high profile..........

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And lurking there somewhere in the tax haven heaven of The Bahamas, is the "Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative - Bahamas" with its registered office in the United States at the taxpayer funded Presidential Offices of President William Jefferson Clinton.

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That payment to the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative - Bahamas came from the 2005 IRS990 return of the Lyford Cay Foundation.

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Here for the first time is the entire list of donors to the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative from its 2005 IRS 990 return.

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HIV/Aids Initiative Inc - the entity we've spoken about for at least a year now, was receiving significant sums from the US UK, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

It had its own declared bank accounts in these countries.

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OECS is the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States - and the bank account and office was at St Lucia.

But the cheque for $50,000 from Lyford Cay isn't on the list.  It doesn't show up on Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative Inc's accounts.

That's because from early on in the operation of the cash shifting William J. Clinton Foundation, the former President had a lovely little tax haven operation called the "Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative - Bahamas" which we only know about because of Lyford Cay Foundation's assiduous reporting.   The Clinton Foundation must have "forgot" about it.

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And who is smokin' Joe Cashion?

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He is a financial guru.   Venture Capital, private equity, international global guy stuff.

He's also with the program.  Ya see........Smokin' Joe was with the Clinton Crew and their HIV/Aids Initiative Inc gigs from the get-go, back in 2002.

Bill himself tells us where it all began, the very first place Bill laid down the foundation stone, back in 2002 when all the weird changes were happening to the 990s that were all on impenetrable cash accounting with big shifts of millions here, there and everywhere.

Back then Chief of Staff Smokin' Joe was with the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative, weren't you Joe?

Joe's LinkedIn page tells us he was pretty close to Bill for a long time.

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But it doesn't mention the dodgy Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative Inc.  The CHAI.  The entity that we know attracted drama.

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What?  Back in 2002 CHAI meant Clinton HIV Aids Initiative Inc.  Smokin' Joe, are you trying to mislead us?

Don't you remember the good old days of fun in the sun at The Bahamas?

We do.  Proof positive that Clinton Foundation shenanigans started out with a tax haven account in The Bahamas and a name that suddenly no one loved any more.

CHAI Latte anyone?