NEW YORK – The attorney general of Georgia should open an investigation and file criminal charges against a group co-founded by former President Bill Clinton for holding a fundraising gala in Atlanta last March in which it raised $100,000 without being registered as a foundation in the state, as required by law, contends a Wall Street analyst who is probing the Clinton Foundation.
WND reported this week that Clinton serves as honorary chairman of the American India Foundation, which has fundraisers scheduled in Maryland, Virginia and Illinois without registering in those states as a non-profit with authority to raise tax-deductible charitable donations. As WND has reported since last spring, Ortel has concluded through an extensive investigation that the Clinton Foundation has illegally enriched its namesakes, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.
“In Georgia, it is a criminal felony for an organization holding itself out as a non-profit organization duly authorized to raise tax-deductible charitable donations without first registering in the state as a charity,” Ortel explained to WND.
Ortel said he is preparing a criminal complaint “to stop the AIF from continuing to use its association with former president Bill Clinton as the group’s ‘honorary chairman’ to defraud legitimate donors who believe they are entitled to a tax-deduction for their contribution.”
WND has a copy of emails between Ortel and Kostas Ntonas, charities analyst in the Securities and Charities Division of the Office of Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp, confirming AIF was not registered in the state.
“Thank you for your email,” Ntonas replied Oct. 30. “I would like to inform you that after checking our pending and existing registrations list, I did not find an organization registered with this name (American India Foundation) in our records.”
Ortel pointed out that in Illinois, a search of the Illinois Secretary of State corporate division provided evidence the American India Foundation had its charitable license to solicit charitable donations in the state revoked twice.
In his email to Georgia officials, Ortel said that from “inception some time after Jan. 26 2001, Bill Clinton has continuously served as ‘Honorary Chairman’ of AIF, this fact and his prominent involvement is underscored numerous places on the AIF website, in the media, and then in descriptions published by Trustees and Directors of AIF describing their myriad activities in the U.S., in India, and elsewhere.”
AIF reported the March 27 gala in an article posted on its website.
“Veteran leader of the environmental movement, progressive social activist, and celebrated author Carl Pope was presented with the inaugural Lillian Gordy Carter Award for Exceptional Service to India, instituted in honor of the mother of President Jimmy Carter’s legacy of medical and nursing excellence to the underprivileged, both in India, as a member of the US Peace Corps in the late 1960s, and to African-American communities in Georgia during the Civil Rights movement,” AIF said.
“State Senator Jason Carter, grandson of President Carter and Georgia State Senator, commemorated the Award,” the article continued. “Sen. Carter has continued the family legacy of global service by serving in the US Peace Corps in South Africa, working on education issues in rural areas, after his graduation from Duke University.”
In February 2013, CNN reported President Obama expressed gratitude to Jason Carter for his role in leaking secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comments, according to Jason Carter’s cousin James Carter.
AIF cancels meeting
WND also has copies of a series of emails in which AIF scheduled a meeting with Ortel in the organization’s headquarters in New York City, only to cancel after Ortel posed a series of questions he wanted to pose during the meeting.
In an Oct. 16 email, Pratibha Srinivasan, the AIF chief operating officer, offered Ortel a series of meeting alternatives during the following week with Pradeep Kashyap, the vice-chairman of AIF who was the organization’s founding executive director in May 2001.
A meeting date of Oct. 22 was selected, but Srinivasan sent Ortel an email Oct. 21 to cancel it.
“Mr. Kashyap is on jury duty today and tomorrow. He was unaware of the new rules that require two days availability for the jury selection process. He was expecting to attend one day only and hence we set up the appointment for tomorrow,” explained in his email to Ortel. “Apologize for this as we have to cancel our meeting tomorrow. I will find out Mr. Kashyap’s next availability and advise you soon.”
To date, the AIF has not offered to reschedule the meeting.
“This is nonsense,” Ortel told WND. “I believe Kashyap has been centrally involved in this fraud since the beginning, and plans advance now to continue numerous places with illegal fundraising.”
Ortel said he believes AIF canceled “because Kashyap is fraudster in chief and the AIF has figured out we have caught the AIF in a big-time criminal violation of state law, perpetrated in Georgia with Democratic Party faithful predictably influenced by the AIF continuing use of Bill Clinton’s name, dating back to the inception of both groups in 2001.”
AIF accountants stonewall
Ortel believes Kashyap canceled specifically because of an email Ortel sent Oct. 19 to Vinay S. Navani.
Navani is the CPA who heads the India-U.S. practice for the New York and New Jersey-based certified public accountant firm Wilkin & Guttenplan P.C., which is listed by AIF as responsible for filing AIF audited financial statements to state regulators and to the IRS.
“I note that you have been with W&G since 1998 and that you chair your firm’s India-U.S. practice,” Ortel explained to Navani in the email.
“As part of more extensive work concerning the Clinton Foundation and concerning public charities that solicit donations for international work, I started looking through public filings of the American India Foundation (“AIF”) several weeks ago. According to AIF filings, Mr. Clinton has served as Founding Honorary Chairman continuously since early 2001,” Ortel continued.
“Concerning 2001, AIF appears to have appended an unsigned ‘audit’ that purports to have been issued by your firm and seems to be dated 8 April 2002,” Ortel continued. “Please confirm whether this version is authentic.”
Ortel noted no audit is appended to the filing for 2002.
“Please explain whether W&G issued an audit of AIF results for 2002,” he wrote.
“Concerning 2003, another unsigned ‘audit’ is appended that purports to have been issued by your firm,” Ortel detailed. “Please confirm whether this version is authentic.”
Ortel’s email concluded by asking Navani to respond to the following list of questions:
- It is possible that accounting work product appended to filings for 2001 and for 2003 is not, in fact, W&G issued material – if so, the following questions are not relevant.
- Assuming that the accounting work product for 2001 and 2003 was issued by W&G, why is no opening balance sheet shown as of 6 March 2001?
- When did W&G review the application on Form 1023 to authorize AIF as an IRS approved tax-exempt organization?
- When did W&G review U.S. state registrations that are required to solicit donations in those states were AIF began soliciting in 2001?
- When did W&G review Indian registrations that are required to operate a charity in places where AIF operated?
- What steps did W&G take to confirm that AIF exercised control over all of its foreign operations?
- What exchange rates were used to calculate values of grants and other expenses that were transacted in foreign currencies?
- Why is no information shown concerning balance sheet data as of 31 December 2002?
- In the “Other Matters” section concerning 2001 and 2003, reference is made of activities carried out by certain persons “prior to the legal formation of AIF.” Who were these persons and what were these activities? What law firm(s) were involved in validating that such results might lawfully be included in the Forms 990 and in these “audits”?
Ortel concluded by asking, “Please respond as soon as possible.”
Wilkin & Guttenplan failed to respond.