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Questions About Clinton Indian Money Man

From a very understanding Washington Post:

Sant Singh Chatwal (left) and his son with Hillary Clinton at a June 25, 2007 fundraiser in New York City that raised more than a million dollars for her campaign.

When Controversy Follows Cash

Some Fundraisers With Legal Issues Slip Through Campaigns’ Vetting

By John Solomon and Matthew Mosk
Monday, September 3, 2007; A01

Sant S. Chatwal, an Indian American businessman, has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaigns, even as he battled governments on two continents to escape bankruptcy and millions of dollars in tax liens.

The founder of the Bombay Palace restaurant chain, Chatwal is one of a growing number of fundraisers in the 2008 presidential campaign whose backgrounds have prompted questions about how much screening the candidates devote to their “bundlers” while they press to raise record amounts.

Chatwal’s case reached from his native India to New York City. The IRS pursued him for approximately $4 million in unpaid business taxes, while New York state placed a lien seeking more than $5 million in taxes. He forfeited a building to New York City on which he was delinquent on property taxes and was sued by federal regulators seeking to recoup millions of dollars in loans from a failed bank where he served as a director.

Across the ocean, three Indian banks forced him into U.S. bankruptcy, and he was charged with bank fraud. He was out on bond when he showed up in India in 2001 during a visit by his longtime friend Bill Clinton.

Yet none of the legal and financial woes — occasionally touched on in American or Indian newspapers or highlighted by political opponents — raised red flags inside Hillary Clinton’s fundraising operation. Chatwal recently said he plans to help raise $5 million from Indian Americans for Clinton’s presidential bid.

Asked whether anything in Chatwal’s background caused concerns about his activities on behalf of the campaign, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer answered, “No.” He declined last week to be more specific, saying only that major fundraisers are routinely vetted “through publicly available records.” …

Chatwal, after making his millions in the restaurant business, saw his fortunes sour when he began dabbling in New York real estate just as the market softened.

He was forced into bankruptcy in 1995 by three Indian banks that claimed he owed them millions from business loans.

During the 1990s, the IRS and New York City and state tax authorities also pursued liens, and Chatwal worked out deals to pay them back. When the rents from one apartment building he bought no longer covered the real estate taxes, Chatwal turned over the building to New York City to resolve a reported $2 million tax lien, his lawyer said.

In 1997, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. sued Chatwal over his role as a director and a guarantor of unpaid loans at the failed First New York Bank for Business. The government alleged that his loans had “resulted in losses to the bank in excess of $12 million,” and it questioned his claims that he could not repay the debts.

The regulators also questioned why Chatwal continued to rent a spacious penthouse apartment in New York in the midst of his financial turmoil. “The debtor has managed to continue living in luxurious style in the same penthouse apartment he resided in at a time he claimed a net worth of tens of millions of dollars without adequate explanation of how his family’s limited income is able to support such a lifestyle,” the government said in a 1997 filing.

In September 2000, Chatwal hosted a half-million dollar fundraiser at that Upper East Side penthouse for Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.

A few months later the FDIC abruptly settled the case, agreeing on Dec. 18, 2000, to let Chatwal pay $125,000 for the loans that it had said caused at least $12 million in losses.

Greene, Chatwal’s lawyer, said he believed that the actual losses caused by the loans were smaller but agreed that the bankruptcy resulted in a much smaller settlement. “He fully intended to pay the bank until the Indian banks involuntarily forced him into bankruptcy,” Greene said…

Just as Chatwal’s U.S. cases were being resolved, Indian authorities in December 2000 charged him with bank fraud. On April 30, 2001, he appeared in a Mumbai court and posted a $32,000 bond, according to court officials there. Chatwal was not under travel restrictions, though, and he went back to New York.

He returned to India a month later and made headlines in Indian newspapers by appearing with Bill Clinton during a visit with earthquake victims. The trip was underwritten by the American India Foundation, where Chatwal’s son was a board member. Aides to the former president said Chatwal was one of about 100 members of the Clinton delegation.

Eventually, Indian authorities “discharged” Chatwal from the bank case and closed the matter, Greene said.

Chatwal’s allegiance to the Clintons never wavered. Earlier this year, he promised to raise $5 million for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, creating a group called Indian Americans for Hillary 2008. Donors who gathered at least $25,000 were promised a “private VIP meeting” with the candidate, fundraising letters show.

The Clintons just have bad luck when it comes to their fundraisers, it would seem.

Surely they check everyone out very thoroughly. But as the article stresses, some mistakes are just going to “slip through” their intense “vetting.”

And who are we to judge?

A few months later the FDIC abruptly settled the case, agreeing on Dec. 18, 2000, to let Chatwal pay $125,000 for the loans that it had said caused at least $12 million in losses

Certainly the Clintons’ influence had no bearing on this. Government debt collectors are famous for accepting pennies on the dollar.

But isn’t it funny how the only people the Washington Post could find to ask about this were a Clintons’ spokesman and Mr. Chatwal’s attorney.

Is this hard-hitting investigative journalism or a preemptive strike to get the Clintons’ defense out before anyone else brought up the obvious subject?

Indeed, even Wikipedia has some very interesting details which were carefully omitted by the Post’s crack reporters:


Sant Chatwal and his wife are greeted by Hillary Clinton at another fundraiser Chatwal hosted for her.

Sant Singh Chatwal

Sant Singh Chatwal is a Sikh Indian-American businessman. According to The Indian Express, “he is a former Indian Air Force pilot who migrated to the United States in the 1980s and started the Bombay Palace chain of restaurants.” …

Chatwal is a Trustee of the William J. Clinton Foundation, a Charitable foundation organized by President Clinton focusing on global issues of health security, economic empowerment (HIV/AIDS Initiative; Clinton Global Initiative, Urban Enterprise Initiative, Healthier Generation, etc.)…

Chatwal has devoted resources to political causes, working very closely with the Democratic Party, in particular with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Kerry, Senator Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Joseph Crowley.

In February 2006, Chatwal hosted an extravagant wedding in India for his son Vikram Chatwal. The wedding including a week of festivities spread out over a week and three Indian cities and a veritable fleet of chartered planes. Guests included Bill Clinton, Lakshmi Mittal, Deepak Chopra and the Prime Minister of India.

Ironically, Sant Chatwal had earlier filed for personal bankruptcy in New York to discharge millions in debt owed to various people and entities including the US government. In court filings in the late 1990s he stated he had just ‘$100’ while living in a penthouse in New York’s expensive upper-Eastside. Among the many banks that saw their loans turn bad were Lincoln Savings Bank, First New York Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and State Bank of India.

He is now on “Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee”.

Apparently the Post didn’t think its readers needed to know such trivialities.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 3rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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