Conversations revealed in hacked emailed published today by the organization Wikileaks show that Hillary Clinton’s presence at a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in Morocco was a pre-condition for that government to host it. Clinton never showed, leaving the King of Morocco $12 million poorer and an elite guest list missing an experience many paid handsomely for.
Clinton appeared a lock to attend the May 2015 CGI meeting in private emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account the November before, as senior aide Huma Abedin fretted that “if hrc was not part if it, meeting was a non-starter” for the government of Morocco. The King, she wrote, “personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting.”
Four months later, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook emailed Podesta: “huma said it was still happeneing [sic], then said that she’s going to cancel at the last minute.” While Bill Clinton attended the conference, Hillary ultimately did not.
A separate email reveals the guest list for the conference. These are the well-connected global elites who attended the conference and failed to get an audience with the former Secretary of State. While most paid their way in, some VIPs received complimentary admission.
Armand Arton, CEO of Arton Capital
Arton is a major economic player, particularly in the Middle East. His biography states that the government of the Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda appointed him Special Economic Envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council. “Mr. Arton joins the likes of respected Hollywood icon Robert De Niro and billionaire financier Martin Franklin who were appointed in December 2014,” an announcement on his group’s website reads.
Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq
Al-Abadi received a complimentary admission to the Morocco CGI conference. He has been running Iraq since 2014, when he took over for Nouri al-Maliki. Abadi, like Maliki, is a member of the nation’s Shiite elite, who were ousted from Baghdad during the Saddam Hussein era. Under Maliki, the Islamic State was both born and grew into the monster it is today. Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city, fell to the Islamic State months before Abadi took over.
But Abadi has been able to do little to stabilize Iraq, and during his tenure Iraqi Kurds have become more vocal for independence while remaining the most effective ground troops against ISIS. In May 2015, Abadi was busy trying to get Russia involved in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq (Russia ultimately chose a more active role in Syria). Today, he is betting his legacy on the fight to liberate Mosul, which begun Monday and has already sprung sectarian tensions between Iraqi Arab Shiites and Sunni Kurds.
Sami al-Afghani, CEO of Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank
As the event took place in Morocco, Mideast banking moguls appear overrepresented on the guest list. Al-Afghani is among the most prominent, having received the Best Islamic Banking CEO award from Global Brands Magazine in 2014. In his negotiations he has established multiple strong ties to the Saudi government and Saudi banks, with which the Clintons have also conducted million-dollar business negotiations.
Nabil el-Araby, Secretary General of the Arab League
Another complimentary guest, el-Araby has been in charge of the Arab League since July 2011. During his tenure, the Arab League has been one of the most belligerent international voices against Israel, from opposing the UNESCO recognition of Jewish World Heritage sites to hosting multiple “boycott Israel” conferences. The Arab League has also taken a stern stance in support of Saudi Arabia against the Iranian government’s call to relocate the hajj or give Tehran and Shiite Muslims control of Mecca and Medina.
Jose Luis Manzano, Argentine Businessman
Jose Luis Manzano is one of the most successful oil barons of Argentina, with a long history of close ties to the nation’s heads of state, once Interior Minister in the Carlos Menem administration and formerly close to leftist former presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner. As head of multiple media and energy corporations, Manzano appeared to consistently land government contracts while Cristian Kirchner ran the country. “Manzano-controlled companies haven’t met their commitments to search for oil in Chubut, Neuquen and Salta provinces, according to the energy secretaries in the three provinces,” reported Bloomberg in 2014, noting that the government appeared to have little good reason to keep granting oil exploration leases when Manzano kept not finding anything.
A 2012 profile of Manzano in the Argentine newpaper Clarín notes that he became famous during Menem’s tenure for using the phrase “I steal for the Crown” in response to corruption allegations, and fled to the United States upon Menem leaving the government. During his time in the United States, Clarín writes, he took on the nickname “the fugitive tyrant.”
Manzano is now one of the most powerful media moguls in the country.
Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, European Aristocrat
Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is a German-Danish noble and former princess, losing the title after her second divorce to Prince Johann Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn. She is described as a “philanthropist” but is most famous for allegations that she engaged in an extramarital affair with the former king of Spain.
A bombshell book on the final days of King Juan Carlos’ tenure alleged that Sayn-Wittgenstein’s affair with the king began after “was flown home from Botswana on a private jet after suffering an injury while on an expensive elephant-hunting holiday,” according to the Daily Mail. She has denied any inappropriate relationship with the king, though she has also said she would never again return to Spain after the scandal.
It is unclear what Sayn-Wittgenstein was doing at the Marrakesh meeting. She is listed as representing Apollonia Associates, an organization she is in charge of. According to its website, Apollonia officials “connect people, platforms, and organizations to create sustainable value and deliver exceptional results.”
Haim Saban, Chairman of Univisión
Despite being one of the wealthiest people in global media, Saban received complimentary admission to the conference. He and his wife have donated over $10 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential SuperPAC and, while he has repeatedly denied interference in Univisión’s coverage of the election, Podesta account emails published by Wikileaks have revealed that he has played a role in influencing Univisión’s news division favorably towards the Clintons.
Ashraf Mohamed Fouad Rateb, Arab Contractors
Rateb is on the CGI meeting guestlist as a representative of Arab Contractors, an Egyptian state construction company. Rateb had been previously especially active in bringing Arab Contractors projects to the rest of Africa, and represented Equatorial Guinea as Honorary Consul in Cairo.
Arab Contractors is one of the few corporations of its kind to be publicly listed in the Egyptian stock market, according to the Washington Post, and has a long history of conducting lucrative, but dubious, construction projects. “The Arab Contractors Company received millions of Egyptian pounds in public money for the ‘upkeep’ of Mubarak’s properties,” according to the independent newspaper Daily News Egypt. Following the fall of Mubarak and his successor Mohamed Morsi, the head of Arab Contractors, Ibrahim Mahlab, was appointed Prime Minister. He resigned last year following a string of resignations of staff under him over corruption allegations.
Jay T. Snyder, Former UN Representative and Democratic Activist
Jay T. Snyder is a longtime member of the Clinton circle of trust, the son of Harold Snyder, a pharmaceutical pioneer known as a prominent donor to the Clinton Foundation before his death. Clinton appointed the younger Snyder to the post of U.S. Representative to the 55th United Nations General Assembly in 2000, where he worked on medical initiatives. He has an extensive resume in the pharmaceutical industry and has been a longtime Democratic activist and top Clinton donor. A Buzzfeed report claims Snyder was seeking an overseas appointment from the Obama administration but failed to get one just as Noah Mamet, later appointed ambassador to Argentina, took credit for the money Snyder had donated to Democrats.
Snyder is currently the head of “The Open Hands Initiative,” described on its website as “dedicated to improving people-to-people understanding and friendship throughout the world.”
Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London
When he was registered to attend the Morocco CGI summit, Rajesh Agrawal was not yet in the London government, where he was appointed by current mayor Sadiq Khan after being one of the loudest voices in the British left against the vote to leave the European Union. Instead, Agrawal was the head of Rational FX, a foreign currency exchange corporation. Agrawal explained his company’s model in a 2012 interview:
We act like a wholesaler of money. So we exchange a customer’s money in return of a fee. They choose us over the banks because we exchange money at a more competitive rate. We, on the other hand, get a good rate of conversion from the banks because of the sheer volume of the money we exchange. So customers win because they get a good rate for currency exchange and we earn profits in the form of our commission.
Agrawal describes himself as a CGI member on his website and led a trade mission to the United States as Khan’s first trip abroad, one in which he was slated to meet the Clintons at a CGI event.