India Awarded Sant Chatwal After Hillary Backed N-Deal: Book

Lalit K Jha/Washington
India Awarded Sant Chatwal After Hillary Backed N-Deal: Book

Asserting that India "quickly became a rich vein" of Clinton Foundation, a controversial book which hit the stands today has alleged that the then Indian government rewarded hotelier Sant Chatwal with one of its highest civilian awards for getting Hillary Clinton support the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal in 2008.

The book Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer also alleges that the donations made by some Indian politicians and organisations were instrumental in getting Hillary, who was then a US Senator, to support the nuclear deal.

The allegations have been refuted by the office of Hillary Clinton, who last month announced her second presidential bid.

"Clinton Cash is attempting to rewrite history to fit a pre-determined partisan narrative. It only takes a quick look at Hillary's actual voting record and statements to see that this conspiracy theory doesn't even come close to passing the smell test," Josh Schwerin, spokesperson of the Hillary's presidential campaign had told PTI.

Schweizer writes in his book: "In the end, both Bill, who initially imposed the sanctions against the Indian government, and Hillary, who supported that policy, played a vital role in getting them lifted."

"Shortly after the legislation passed, the Indian government granted one of its most prestigious civilian awards (the Padma Bhushan) to a close Clinton family friend precisely because, as they saw it, he got Hillary to support the legislation," he says in the book and then goes on to write about Sant Chatwal, a New York-based Indian-American hotelier.

"What we do know is that millions were spent on cultivating the relationship with the Clintons, who not only received money directly through lucrative speaking deals, but also reaped millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation," the book alleges referring to the donations received from India.

"Indeed, India quickly became a rich vein of Clinton Foundation support," Schweizer wrote.

In fact, one full chapter of the book has been devoted on fund received by the Clinton Foundation from Indian companies and individuals.

Politician Amar Singh is the other individual prominently mentioned in the book.

"Amar Singh has an easy swagger and a broad grin, marking a flamboyant manner and a combative attitude that has suited him well in the sharp-elbowed world of Indian politics," the author says.

Singh has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed he was a victim of "assumptions and rumour-mongering."

"Indian industrialists and elites, who could not contribute to Hillary's political campaigns, much less vote for her, started making highly publicised appearances at Clinton campaign fundraising events," the book alleges.

The attraction, of course, was for Indians in the US who could donate, and who might want to do business with these industrialists. These introductions are worth a great deal to those in a position to exploit them, the book says.

In Washington, the Confederation of Indian Industry hired lobbyists to push for a nuclear deal; at the same time, they sent the Clinton Foundation a check for between USD 1 million and USD 5 million, it said.

These donations, he wrote, were revealed only after Hillary's nomination as Secretary of State, and while the foundation is no longer required to disclose donors since she left office, once the nuclear deal was sealed such donors appeared to cease their generosity.

"The Hindustan Construction chairman and managing partner, Ajit Gulabchand, donated money while in New York in late September 2007. Today Hindustan Construction is involved in several nuclear-power construction projects in India. And there were mysterious donations never really accounted for — as we will see," the book says.

Schweizer alleged the Clintons have never explained who donated the millions the foundation attributed to Amar Singh.

"And they have never discussed the role Sant Chatwal and his flow of money might have played in getting Hillary to change her views on the nuclear deal," he said.

In an interview aired yesterday, former US President Bill Clinton had refuted charges against the Clinton Foundation.

He claimed there is a "very concerted effort to bring the foundation down" and said he might even step down as its head if his wife is elected.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy," Clinton told NBC's Today's Show.

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