Ah, the Clinton Foundation. That fount of humanitarian goodwill, formed in the spirit of charity and selflessness, aiming to reduce human poverty and promote greater good for all mankind. Or at least for the Clinton family, as long as funds can keep flowing into the Foundation’s coffers.
The by-now notorious Clinton Foundation has been the home to many a dodgy “trustee” during its 19-year history, among them one Vinod Gupta, an Indian entrepreneur and close friend of the Clintons, who founded a business called InfoUSA in 1971.
InfoUSA collected the personal data of a majority of American citizens and sold it to any company willing to pay it. In 2010, after being accused of embezzlement by the SEC, Vinod Gupta sold InfoUSA, going on to found new ventures in data collection such as DatabaseUSA, Infofree and LocateAMERICA.
Beyond the occasional invasion of privacy, InfoUSA was accused of aiding and abetting criminal organizations that defrauded elderly persons. Specifically, it sold lists of names, phone numbers and emails entitled “Suffering Seniors” and “Oldies But Goldies” to such organizations to do what they wished with the information.
One of the lists stated, “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.” As the New York Times reported, many of the organizations buying these lists were already under investigation at the time InfoUSA sold them, and InfoUSA was aware of this condition. Vinod was CEO of InfoUSA until 2008.
Just after Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001, the former president helped create the American India Foundation (AIF), an ostensibly nonprofit group affiliated with the Clinton Foundation initially set up to coordinate aid in the wake of a devastating earthquake in the Indian state of Gujarat.
As reported in the Washington Free Beacon, throughout the intervening years, numerous heads of the AIF and members of its board have been convicted of crimes such as campaign finance violations and insider trading. In fact, given the number of such incidences, one might be tempted to call the AIF a criminal enterprise.
One of its board members was none other than the Clintons’ friend Vinod Gupta, who helped establish the AIF with Bill Clinton and another man, Rajat Gupta (no relation), who we’ll get to in a moment.
The AIF stated at the time that one of its goals was to raise $50 million to help rebuild some 100 villages in Gujarat. In April of 2001, Bill Clinton made a photo-op tour of devastated areas in the state where he was met by adoring crowds.
As detailed in the book Partners in Crime: The Clintons’ Scheme to Monetize the White House for Personal Gain by researcher and Harvard Ph.D. Jerome Corsi, neither the AIF nor the Clinton Foundation had IRS approval to conduct earthquake-relief charity efforts at the time, yet both did so.
As Corsi relates, it’s been standard practice for decades for the Clintons to not let a natural disaster go to waste in the course of raising funds for themselves and their Foundation.
In exchange for helping to form AIF, Vinod Gupta made Bill Clinton an advisor to InfoUSA and paid him more than $3 million. He also made sure his old friend received 100,000 shares of stock in the company. Bill gave a speech at the InfoUSA’s Omaha, Nebraska headquarters and received $200,000 in 2001.
According to National Public Radio’s Peter Overby, “Gupta has a long history of giving and raising campaign money for the Clintons and gave $1 million for the 2000 Millennium Celebration, a New Year’s Party thrown by the Clintons.
When he was president, Bill Clinton named Gupta to the Kennedy Center board of directors. Gupta also got to stay in the Lincoln bedroom with his wife. He gave another million to the Clinton Presidential Library.” Clinton had nominated Gupta for the U.S. ambassadorship to Fiji, but Gupta ultimately declined the post.
In 2007, Gupta admitted he got much out of his relationship with the Clintons. In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Gupta said, “[Bill Clinton] helps us meet some of the right people. In many speeches, he has mentioned InfoUSA by name.”
The World-Herald went on to note that Gupta used his connections with the Clintons to network “into the power elites of Washington, New York and Bay Area. He brought hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue through his contacts at Google, Microsoft, AOL, Cisco, Democratic Party, eBay, HP and hundreds of other corporations. He has one of the biggest Rolodexes in the business”
With the Clintons, one hand typically washed the other, and with Vinod Gupta, it was no different. In the late 2000s, Gupta’s son Benjamin was hired as an intern at the State Department while Hillary Clinton ran it. This was after he worked as a staff assistant for President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel when the latter was a Congressman.
Several years after joining the State Department, Benjamin Gupta died in his sleep after overdosing on oxycodone, an opioid painkiller. Typically such overdoses are the result of addiction. At his funeral, Hillary Clinton said, “It was just fun working with Ben Gupta, and you know, fun is not always a word associated with the State Department.”
The Clintons certainly had fun riding Vinod Gupta’s private jet, using it for trips to Hawaii, Mexico, Jamaica and Switzerland. In December 2005, Hillary Clinton traveled on the jet to Washington, D.C. from White Plains, New York to pick up her assistant Huma Abedin and then continued aboard it to Charleston, South Carolina.
She then billed the State Department $858 for these trips. When she was running for president in 2008, Clinton continued to make use of Gupta’s private aircraft on and off.
When details of much of these trips leaked to the press, InfoUSA shareholders sued the company, claiming that Gupta had used business funds for personal purposes, including spending much of the firm’s money on his friends the Clintons.
In 2010, Vinod Gupta was charged by the SEC, along with two other InfoUSA employees, with “a scheme in which the CEO funneled illegal compensation to himself in the form of perks worth millions of dollars.”
The SEC said Gupta had used $9.5 million in funds from InfoUSA to fund a “lavish lifestyle” and to enrich himself. Gupta reached a settlement with the agency, paying a fine and penalties of $7.4 million and agreeing to serve as a director or officer of a public company.
Of course, as previously mentioned, Vinod Gupta was not the only corporate criminal to be associated with the AIF.
Another AIF board member, Rajat Gupta, has an equally checkered story. Rajat Gupta is a former member of the board of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, and was the managing director of consulting firm McKinsey and Company from 1994 to 2003. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he also was a big donor to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns in the 1990s.
In 2011, Rajat Gupta was charged with five counts of securities fraud and was convicted of insider trading for sending stock tips to his friend, a former trustee of the AIF, hedge fund manager and billionaire Raj Rajaratnam.
Rajat Gupta was given a two-year prison sentence and fined $5 million. For his part in the scandal, Raj Rajaratnam appeared on the cover of the New York Post and was sentenced to 11 years for using the information to amass a $63 million fortune, one of the very few Wall Street financiers to be sent to jail in the last decade.
Another AIF trustee is hotelier Sant Chatwal, the chairman of Hampshire Hotels and Resorts. In 2014, Chatwal pled guilty to campaign finance crimes. He had used straw donors to give $180,000 to Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton for her 2008 presidential bid.
Chatwal was recorded by federal agents talking about bribes for politicians such as Hillary. “Without that nobody will even talk to you. When they are in need of money…the money you give then they are always for you,” he was recorded as saying. “That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system. … What else is there? That’s the only thing.”
Bill Clinton attended the lavish wedding of Chatwal’s son Vikram in India in 2006, along with celebrities Naomi Campbell, P. Diddy and others. In 2013, the younger Chatwal was arrested for possession of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and prescription pills at Fort Lauderdale International Airport in Florida and subsequently entered a rehab program for alcohol addiction.
One year later, the elder Chatwal was fined $500,000 for campaign finance violations. He remains a current trustee of the AIF.
Still other AIF trustees Sudesh Arora and Naveen Jain were also found guilty of various crimes. Arora’s company sold defective equipment parts to the U.S. military and was convicted of contract fraud in 1993. In 2003, Jain was found guilty of insider trading while serving as the CEO of company InfoSpace and was dismissed from the firm.
Even some the AIF’s honorees have been convicted of various crimes. Honoree Ramalinga Raju, the CEO of defunct Satyam Computer Services — a company called ‘India’s Enron’ by its critics — was sentenced to seven years for embezzlement and corporate fraud in 2009.
As for the AIF, in 2013, it was reported that the group took in $6.9 million and its expenses were $7 million — confirming its official status as a “nonprofit” organization. Bill Clinton still serves as the group’s honorary chairman, and the venture is led by Ravi Kumar, who, like Raj Rajarantam and Rajat Gupta, is a veteran of the world of corporate finance.