Bill Clinton’s foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.
As US prosecutors go after 14 people — nine current and former FIFA officials, four sports marketing executives and an accused intermediary — in corruption allegations, seven were taken into custody in Zurich on Wednesday.
But strangely the Clintons and their dealings are not up for scrutiny it seems.
The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.
As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.
At the time of Mr. Clinton’s foray into Swedish fundraising, the Swedish government was pressing Mrs. Clinton’s State Department not to impose new sanctions on firms doing business with Iran, including hometown companies Ericsson and Volvo.
Mrs. Clinton’s State Department issued two orders identifying lists of companies newly sanctioned in 2011 and 2012 for doing business with Iran, but neither listed any Swedish entities.
Behind the scenes, however, the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm was clearly warning the State Department in Washington that Sweden’s trade was growing with Iran — despite Swedish government claims to the contrary.
The Swedes were resistant to new sanctions, telling State Department officials repeatedly and unequivocally that they were worried new penalties would stifle the business between its country’s firms and Tehran. At the time, Iran was Sweden’s second-largest export market in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia.
“Behind the Swedish government’s reluctance to support further sanctions in Iran, especially unilateral European measures, is a dynamic (though still fairly small) trade involving some of Sweden’s largest and most politically well-connected companies: Volvo, Ericsson and ABB to name three,” the U.S. Embassy wrote in one cable to Washington.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that they kept the Obama administration apprised of Ericsson’s activities inside Iran, including the fact that the Swedish firm had provided Iran’s second-largest cellular provider with location-based technology to track customers for billing purposes. The technology transfer occurred in late 2009, shortly after Tehran brutally suppressed a pro-democracy movement in that country, the officials said.
U.S. intelligence further learned that Ericsson in 2010 discussed with Iran’s largest cellular firm providing tracking technology that could be used directly by Iranian security authorities.