Timeline: The Clintons, the Russians, and Uranium
I created most of this timeline more than two years ago but with the recent revelations about Russian bribery and extortion efforts within the U.S., I thought it was time for an update. Most of the links are to articles published by the NY Times which ran several important pieces on this topic in 2015.
Late 2004: Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra creates a company to invest in uranium mining called UrAsia Energy Ltd.
June 2005: Giustra meets Bill Clinton at “a fundraiser for tsunami victims at Mr. Giustra’s Vancouver home.” The two hit it off. (Note: Newsweek reports Clinton and Giustra first met in January, not June.)
August 2005: Giustra’s company UrAsia Energy sends engineering consultants to Kazakhstan, which is home to about 20 percent of the world’s uranium supply. Kazakhstan has a repressive government with a poor human rights record and a history of unfair elections. Nursultan Nazarbayev has been its only president since 1991. A 2004 Human Rights Watch report stated, “The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe found that the elections ‘fell short’ of international standards, citing unbalanced election commissions and media bias favoring pro-presidential parties.”
September 6, 2005: Giustra flies former President Clinton on his private jet for stops in three nations. The stops are all part of Clinton Foundation work to grant cheaper access to AIDS drugs. The first stop on the tour, said to be “arranged hastily,” is Kazakhstan. It will be Clinton’s only post-presidential visit to the country.
Clinton then gives a news conference about his AIDS work with President Nazarbayev and afterward praises him for “opening up the social and political life of your country.” Clinton specifically praises Nazarbayev for pledges he had made weeks earlier to free and fair elections. Clinton suggested this commitment “will be quite influential in what I hope will be a successful bid to be the leader of the OSCE in 2009. I think it’s time for that to happen, it’s an important step, and I’m glad you’re willing to undertake it.” At the time Clinton made this statement, the U.S. government did not support Kazakhstan’s bid for OSCE leadership, citing “serious corruption.”
Also during their one-night stay in Kazakhstan, Frank Giustra tells President Nazarbayev he is seeking a business relationship with Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium mining company. President Nazarbayev replies, “Very good, go to it.”
September 7, 2005: Clinton and Giustra leave Kazakhstan on Giustra’s private jet.
September 8, 2005: UrAsia Energy Ltd. signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Kazatomprom worth $450 million. The New York Times reports that UrAsia went from a second-tier shell company to leading uranium producer overnight. One uranium industry expert tells the Times the selection of UrAsia for the deal is a “mystery.”
November 11, 2005: Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a former Mayor of Almaty who joined an opposition party and threatened to publish documents proving government “high level” corruption in President Nazarbayev’s administration, is found dead. He was shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the head. The government rules his death a suicide.
December 2005: Nursultan Nazarbayev wins another 7-year term as President with 91 percent of the vote. Mr. Clinton congratulated Nazarbayev on the win in a letter which states, “Recognizing that your work has received an excellent grade is one of the most important rewards in life.”
Early 2006: Giustra makes a $31.3 million donation to the Clinton Foundation. The donation is kept secret until December 2007.
September 2006: Giustra “co-produces” former President Clinton’s star-studded 60th birthday gala, an event which eventually raises $21 million for the Clinton Foundation.
February 2007: Uranium One, a South African mining company, buys UrAsia Energy Ltd. for $3.1 billion. The head of Kazatomprom has a private, 3-hour meeting with Bill Clinton at Clinton’s New York home to discuss a forthcoming business deal arranged by Giustra. When asked about the meeting by the New York Times, Giustra denied it happened or that he arranged it. When it is pointed out that Moukhtar Dzhakishev, president of Kazatomprom, has a photo with Mr. Clinton taken inside his home during the meeting, Giustra does an about face. Similarly, a spokesman for Clinton initially denies the meeting took place, then issues a “correction” acknowledging it did.
2009: Ian Telfer, Chairman of Uranium One, donates $1 million to the Clinton Foundation through his family charity.
June 2009: Moukhtar Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, is arrested for illegally selling mining rights to foreign companies, including some given to Frank Giustra’s UrAsia (which are now owned by Uranium One). The NY Times reports “American diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks…reflect concerns that Mr. Dzhakishev’s arrest was part of a Russian power play for control of Kazakh uranium assets.”
June 10-11, 2009: Uranium One pressures the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan to clarify the situation regarding its mining rights and US officials meet with Kazakh officials on these two days to discuss it.
June 14, 2009: A subsidiary of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom gains a 17 percent ownership share in Uranium One.
November 2009: With the permission of the FBI, an American businessman begins making kickback payments at the direction of Vadim Mikerin, “the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States.” Between 2009 and 2012, with the approval of Rosatom, Mikerin would use bribes and extortion to compromise “American contractors in the nuclear industry.”
June 2010: Rosatom seeks a majority ownership share in Uranium One. Because Uranium One owns mining interests in several states within the US, the deal must be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment. One agency that has to sign off on the deal is the State Department, where Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State.
2010: Ian Telfer, Chairman of Uranium One, donates $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation through his family charity. Between 2009-2012 Telfer’s charity would donate more than $2.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.
June 29,2010: The New York Times timeline notes, “Bill Clinton is paid $500,000 for a speech in Moscow by a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that assigned a buy rating to Uranium One stock.” President Putin reportedly thanked Clinton for giving the speech.
October 2010: Rosatom’s majority ownership of Uranium One is approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The company’s most valuable assets are the mining rights originally owned by UrAsia Energy Ltd., thanks to the deal reached just one day after former President Clinton left Kazakhstan.
2011: “the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.”
January 2013: Rosatom takes 100% control of Uranium One and takes the company private.
There are obviously a lot of moving parts here, but this entire deal probably doesn’t get started without Bill Clinton and eventually proceeds with the approval of Hillary Clinton. All the while, the Clinton Foundation is taking in millions of dollars from those who benefit from the deal and Bill Clinton personally makes half a million dollars giving a speech in Moscow. And evidence that Russia was involved in a bribery and extortion scheme starting in 2009 doesn’t become public knowledge until October 2017.