The Daily Caller
Frank Giustra, the Canadian mining magnate and Clinton Foundation board member, has gone to great lengths recently to shoot down claims that his work with the former president presents a conflict of interest.
But a review of Canadian court documents and other records raises questions over whether Giustra is truly an above-the-board businessman.
The 57-year-old Giustra, who bears the haircut of Caesar, the stature of Napoleon, and was described to The Daily Caller as a “puppet-master,” has interests in a wide variety of industries — including the film industry and the olive oil business.
But his main interest is in mining, and he has made millions investing in shell companies in the industry and turning them for massive profit. Technically, Giustra is the CEO of Fiore Financial, but he is heavily involved and invested in numerous companies, including Endeavour Financial, and its offshoot, the Cayman Islands-based Endeavour Mining.
In Dec. 2008, Endeavour Financial and Rusoro Mining, a company controlled by Russian businessman Andre Agapov, attempted a hostile takeover of Gold Reserve Inc. (GRI), a mining company based in Spokane, Wash.
The rub was this: in 2004, GRI entered a contract with Endeavour in which it paid the company $1.2 million for consultation services while Endeavour had both equity and debt investments in the company. GRI alleged that it was not aware of Endeavour’s investment in Rusoro, and that the Giustra-controlled company breached its confidentiality and engaged in an obscene case of a conflict of interest.
Two Canadian judges sided with GRI in separate rulings in February and April 2009. Giustra and his right-hand man, Gordon Keep, were named by GRI in a lawsuit in 2010, and Endeavour and Rusoro eventually agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement with GRI in 2012.
Stanley Beck, an arbitrator and the former chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, offered scathing testimony during the case.
“I am not aware of any case in which the financial adviser of a company, who is subject to a confidentiality agreement, has subsequently appeared as the financial adviser to a hostile bidder for that same company,” Beck stated, according to court documents.
Another mining industry insider familiar with the companies and the lawsuit told The Daily Caller that Endeavour’s double-dealing was “unprecedented” and that Endeavour’s “financial advisory business suffered…because people were literally appalled.”
Endeavour Financial morphed into a mining company after the ruling, said the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Clinton’s first documented meeting with Giustra occurred in Jan. 2005 when the former president spoke via satellite for an event arranged by Giustra to discuss tsunami relief. By June, Clinton’s team reached out to Giustra to seek use of the tycoon’s luxurious MD-87 private jet.
“The plane is a business tool,” Giustra told The Globe and Mail in 2008. “No more, no less.”
Clinton has used that so-called business tool 26 times since meeting Giustra, according to The Washington Post. Giustra has accompanied Clinton on 13 of those trips.
— Frank Giustra (@Frank_Giustra) September 25, 2014
Clinton and Giustra developed a closer partnership when, in Sept. 2005, they flew to Kazakhstan on Giustra Air. There Giustra negotiated a deal for a contract that gave one of his companies, UrAsia Energy, access to three uranium mines. Clinton and Giustra also met with Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, with whom Clinton claimed he wanted to discuss his philanthropic work on HIV/AIDS.
As author Peter Schweizer lays out in “Clinton Cash,” his book about the Clinton Foundation and its many wealthy donors, HIV/AIDS was a strange project for Clinton to undertake in Kazakhstan. As of 2005, only between 0.1 and 0.3 percent of the country’s population suffered from the disease.
After their meetings, Clinton issued a public statement in support of Nazarbayev. That backing was out of line with U.S. policy towards the dictator, who had just won an election with a 90-plus percent showing at the polls.
Weeks after the trip, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Foundation.
But that was just a taste of what was to come. In 2007, Giustra pledged $100 million to form the Clinton-Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI), which is now known as the Clinton-Giustra Enterprise (CGE) Partnership. The CGE Partnership also has a Canadian arm, which has been the recipient of millions of dollars in donations from “Friends of Frank,” as they are known.
The Clinton-Giustra Kazakhstan trip was reported by The New York Times in 2008 and is revisited in detail in Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash.”
The book, and another Times article, furthered the story by tying together Giustra’s UrAsia to Uranium One, which was eventually absorbed by Russia’s energy agency, Rosatom. Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and other agencies, approved a series of stock transactions that allowed Rosatom to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One. The deal enriched a number of Giustra associates (and Clinton donors) and helped put 20 percent of U.S. uranium deposits under Russian control.
Giustra and the Clintons were also together in Bogota in June 2010 when Hillary made a major concession to Colombian president Álvaro Uribe.
Giustra, who had business interests in Colombia’s oil, mining and timber industries, first met Uribe in 2005 at a Clinton Global Initiative function.
In 2007, Giustra formed a Colombian oil company, Pacific Rubiales, which proceeded to grow at a phenomenal rate. The company was able to purchase an oil company with close ties to the Colombian government that had just been made private. The Colombian government also granted Pacific the rights to build a pipeline.
In July 2007, Pacific Rubiales announced that it was donating $2.2 million to the new CGSGI. Matching funds would be provided by other longtime Giustra associates — companies like Canaccord and GMP Securities, which have underwritten numerous Giustra deals.
— Frank Giustra (@Frank_Giustra) August 7, 2014
According to a press release in which Giustra is quoted, the $4.4 million total pledge amounted to one percent of the $440 million raised by Pacific Rubiales to continue its Colombian crude oil operations.
While Giustra stated that the Pacific Rubiales deal and the one percent donation “shows other companies how they can help make a real difference in developing countries,” the company has been accused of using heavy-handed tactics to thwart labor strikes.
Whether because of the Pacific Rubiales consortium’s donations to the Clinton Foundation or because of the dictates of U.S. policy, Hillary Clinton helped Pacific Rubiales’ interests.
In June 2010, Giustra, Bill and Hillary Clinton traveled to Colombia and held separate meetings with Uribe. After a morning meeting with Bill, Uribe met with Hillary several hours later. In that meeting, she expressed support for a U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, a reversal of her position from the 2008 presidential campaign trail.
In doing so, the U.S. relieved pressure on Colombia to improve its human rights records, especially in the realm of labor relations.
The gist of “Clinton Cash,” which has led to a massive, coordinated rebuttal from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, is that without the access that only Clinton could provide, Giustra would not have met leaders like Uribe or Nazarbayev who may have helped his business dealings. And without Giustra, Clinton would not have the convenience of a private luxury jet or to millions of dollars of donations from wealthy Canadian miners.
“My money is more effective backing Clinton than any other person I can think of on this planet,” Giustra told The Globe and Mail in 2008.