On July 29, 2009, at a news conference in New Delhi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proudly announced that “Vital Voices Global Partnership,” an NGO that she said she had “founded”, had partnered with Standard Chartered Bank to promote women’s causes throughout Asia.
Unfortunately, Standard Chartered, which also donated generously to the Clinton Foundation Global Initiative, was charged by federal and New York State prosecutors of laundering over $250 billion for Iran and “deliberately” helping Iran circumvent sanctions imposed to cripple its nuclear program. In August and December, 2012 — Standard Chartered paid a total $667 million in fines to settle the cases and admitted its criminal activity.
First, the New York State Department of Financial Services fined Standard Chartered $340 million and, several months later, the Department of Justice negotiated a fine of $327 million in December of last year. Jaspal Bindra, the CEO of Asia Standard Bank, serves on the board of Vital Voices.
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services the ten years of illegal activity by Standard Chartered “left the US financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins, and corrupt regimes and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity.”
And all the while, Standard Chartered was funding programs related to the Clintons. The ties among former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative and Standard Chartered run long and deep:
• On September 26, 2007, former President Bill Clinton announced that Standard Chartered had committed to underwrite $4-5 billion in debt over the next five years to renewable energy organizations in Asia, Africa and Middle East.
• In 2008, Standard Chartered agreed with the Clinton Global Initiative to invest $20 million over five years to help 20 million people in less advantaged areas of twenty cities worldwide.
• Also, in 2008, former President Bill Clinton announced a commitment by Standard Chartered in partnership with Vital Voices and the Clinton Global Initiative for a regional initiative called Women Can to promote economic empowerment for Asian women.
• In September 2010, Standard Chartered committed to the Clinton Global Initiative to raise $100 million by 2020 to help eliminate avoidable blindness.
• In September of 2011, Standard Chartered made another commitment to educate one million people with AIDS in Africa as part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
As recently as last year, Standard Chartered was a sponsor of the Clinton Global Initiative.
The involvement of Vital Voices with Standard Chartered flies in the face of Hillary Clinton’s strong condemnation of Iran and her vigorous efforts to promote global sanctions to deter its nuclear weapon development. But the extensive involvement of the former Secretary’s NGO — with which she still maintains a close connection — with a company central to evading sanctions raises serious questions about possible conflicts of interest.
Vital Voices prominently features the emblem of the Secretary of State and of Standard Chartered on its Facebook page. And, Vital Voices lists Standard Chartered as a “partner” on its web site. Melanne Verveer, a long time Hillary aide, serves as Chairman Emeritus of Vital Voices.
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