Clinton Pressured Bangladesh Prime Minister to Help Major Foundation Donor

May 12, 2017

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has revealed that Hillary Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, pressured her to help a Clinton Foundation donor be reinstated as chairman of Bangladesh's most famous microcredit bank.

Hasina's office confirmed to Circa that the conversation took place in March 2011. Clinton phoned Hasina and demanded that Dr. Muhammed Yunus, a 2006 Nobel Prize winner, be reinstated as chairman of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh's most prominent microcredit bank.

Two of the nonprofit groups that Yunus chairs have donated large sums of money to the Clinton Foundation, Circa reported. Grameen Bank's nonprofit, Grameen America, has donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative, and Grameen Research has given between $25,000 and $50,000, according to the Clinton Foundation's website.

"Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in March 2011 insisting her not to remove Dr. Muhammad Yunus from the post of managing director of Grameen Bank," Deputy Press Secretary Md Nazrul Islam told Circa via email.

"Mrs. Clinton's newly disclosed call to reinstate Dr. Yunus marks one of the most direct involvements in an official government matter that impacted one of her husband's donors," Circa reported Thursday.

The Clinton Foundation was started by Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter serves as the charity's vice chair.

During the 2011 phone call, Islam said the prime minister informed Clinton that Grameen Bank regulations do not allow anyone over the age of 60 to hold the managing director position.

Yunus was removed from the position at age 70 and had "illegally" drawn salaries and allowances for 10 years, Islam wrote in the email. Yunus did not return Circa's requests for comment but has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Grameen Bank is part of a statutory body of the government and is subject to the banking laws of Bangladesh.

Declassified WikiLeaks cables revealed that Yunus and Clinton had been in contact a few years before the then-secretary of state pressured the Bangladeshi prime minister.

"In 2009, Dr. Yunus sent a personal email to then-Secretary of State Clinton's office asking for intervention into the Bangladesh bank and stated his concerns," a WikiLeaks exchange showed.

Throughout her failed 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton faced pay-to-play allegations regarding the foundation, with critics charging there were overlapping interests between the family charity and the State Department during her tenure as secretary of state.

According to an Associated Press report from August, "at least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs."

Neither Clinton nor the Clinton Foundation returned any of Circa's requests for comment.