Haiti Fraudster Had Line to Clinton at State Department

Clinton donor defaulted on $10 million federal loan

Hillary Clinton / AP
September 3, 2015

A Clinton donor was granted a $10 million federal loan for a Haiti house-building scam around the day his lobbyist was in contact with Hillary Clinton about the project, emails released by the State Department show.

Lobbyist Jonathan Mantz, who served as Clinton’s 2008 finance director, reached out to Clinton with details about his client Claudio Osorio’s Haiti house-building efforts in January 2010. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency that works closely with the State Department, was in the process of approving a $10 million loan for Osorio’s company InnoVida around the same time.

InnoVida later defaulted on the loan and the houses were never built. Osorio, who has contributed to both the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, is currently serving 12 years in federal prison on fraud charges related to the loan.

"I wanted you and Secretary Clinton to know what Claudio and Amarilis Osorio are doing on behalf of Haiti reconstruction," Mantz wrote in a Jan. 27, 2010, email to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

An attached document said InnoVida had pledged to build 1,000 houses in Haiti and provided details on the company’s plans.

"InnoVida is committed to the Haiti Relief Effort," said the document. "With our donation of 1,000 homes and the installation of a local FCP manufacturing facility we hope to provide jobs as well as housing to thousands of Haitians with the greater hope of assisting in the full developing, rebuilding and modernizing of the country."

Mills forwarded the email to Clinton later that day with the comment "fyi."

Osorio regularly boasted about his close access to Bill and Hillary while lobbying OPIC officials for the loan, the Washington Free Beacon reported in July.

The agency ended up approving InnoVida’s loan request in just two weeks—although the process typically takes months or years—and waived a requirement for the company to turn over an audited financial report up-front, according to court testimony from OPIC officials reviewed by the Free Beacon.

An OPIC official said Bill and Hillary Clinton would help facilitate the InnoVida project in an internal memo on Jan. 26, 2010, and recommended that the agency approve the loan.

"Former president Bill Clinton is personally in contact with the company to organize its logistical and support needs," wrote the OPIC official. "And secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has made available State Department resources to assist with logistical arrangements."

The memo also said the Clinton Global Initiative had agreed to purchase "6500 homes in Haiti from InnoVida within the next year."

Lynn Tabernacki, the OPIC official who wrote the loan memo, testified in court that the InnoVida loan was approved "within a day or so of [the memo being sent]. So it would have been January 26th or January 27th."

InnoVida went bankrupt in 2011 and $30 million of its funds apparently vanished overseas, according to a court-appointed investigator responsible for recovering the company’s assets.

Osorio was later accused of using the company to scam investors out of $40 million and diverting the money to pay for his Miami Beach mansion, his Maserati, and his Colorado ski chalet.

Osorio pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in 2013.

He and his company have contributed between $20,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to records. The foundation returned the money in 2013, after it was sued on behalf of the company’s scammed investors.

Osorio hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007 at his mansion on Miami’s exclusive Star Island. According to an NPR report, Bill Clinton spoke at the fundraiser and "explain[ed] to an audience that Osorio planned to build 10,000 houses at $5,000 apiece for impoverished Haitians."

During the trial for InnoVida’s chief financial officer, an attorney at the top Miami firm Shutts & Bowen testified that Bill Clinton asked the firm to represent InnoVida in its loan negotiations with OPIC.

The National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group that spent months investigating the InnoVida court documents, told the Free Beacon in July that this case "represents a new low in the misuse of public funds by Clinton allies." The group called for an investigation into why InnoVida was granted the OPIC loan.