By Richard Pollock
Former President Bill Clinton collected $5.6 million in fees from GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company that teaches Sharia Law through its network of more than 100 schools in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The company’s finances strictly adhere to “Sharia Finance,” which includes giving “zakat,” a religious tax of which one-eighth of the proceeds is dedicated to funding Islamic jihad.
The company also contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
The former president served as honorary chairman for GEMS Education from 2011 to 2014, according to federal tax returns he filed with his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
His biggest paycheck from the closely-held company — which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands — was in 2014 when he pocketed $2.1 million. It is unclear if Bill received income from the Middle Eastern firm in 2015, since Hillary has not yet released her tax return for that year.
Sharia law is the Islamic religious legal system that many in the West see as intolerant of human rights and other religions, as well as violating the rights of women and gays. Sharia law is considered by Muslims to be superior to all secular authorities. Islamic jihadis regularly call for the imposition of Sharia law and want to impose it on the West.
GEMS boasted in a 2013 bond prospectus that it is the “only foreign group approved for educational services in Saudi Arabia.” The GEMS facilities in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, taught 1,600 students in 2013.
Saudi Arabia is where Wahabism, the strictest form of Sharia, is observed. The Middle Eastern kingdom bars women from driving cars, requires women to wear the strictest form of the hijab, which covers everything but the eyes and hands. Gay men and women are persecuted in Saudi Arabia.
GEMS distributed a job notice in 2014 for a director of “Islamic and Cultural Studies” for its campuses in the Saudi Kingdom. The skills for the position included proficiency in Sharia to help develop a curriculum. The company also acts as an educational consultant in Egypt, Jordan, and Libya.
Clinton’s relationship with the Sharia-oriented education firm drew critical reviews from anti-terrorism experts.
“Why would Bill Clinton be participating in programs that teach Sharia in foreign countries where that is the specific objective of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaeda,” asked counter-terror analyst Stephen Coughlin in an interview with TheDCNF.
GEMS is one of the most dominant educational programs in the Middle East, with 51 separate schools operating in the region. Globally, the for-profit company claims that 250,000 students are learning under its program in 170 countries.
Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, GEMS operates schools in Kenya, Uganda, Southeast Asia, and the United Kingdom.
GEMS even has two “international” schools in Chicago.
At the GEMS Jumeirah Primary School in Abu Dhabi, the website promotes Islam as a central tenet of its curriculum. “Our aim is teach all Muslim students the pillars of Islam, Islamic faith and morals, enabling them to efficiently apply them to their lives. To increase the knowledge of Islam we share with the children, the stories of prophets, manners of living a Muslim’s life, the five pillars of Islam.”
The Dubai firm has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the foundation website. GEMS was an official sponsor of the 2013 and 2014 Clinton Global Initiative. Its Indian-born CEO Sunny Varkey attended both years.
And the Varkey Foundation, named after the CEO, contributed $250,000 to $500,000 to the foundation.
Varkey publicly claimed Bill was the “honorary chairman” of the his foundation. But Bill and Hillary report in their joint federal tax returns the annual payments came from the for-profit GEMS Education company.
The company has raised funds through bonds and has openly broadcast its commitment to Sharia finance. In 2013, the company issued a $200 million bond prospectus and assured potential investors it relied on “Fatwa and Sharia” advisers to assure it was “compliant” with Sharia finance.
Coughlin said Sharia law on finance also includes money for “zakat,” a religious tax. “And if you read the law of zakat, one-eighth of that money goes to fund Jihad,” he says. “There are eight categories of zakat you must pay every year. And one of them is Jihad.”
Two of the banks — Emirates NB and Noor Bank — provided critical loans to GEMS in August, 2015, and were also accused of conducting illicit banking deals with Iran.
In a June 9, 2009, diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks, U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Richard G. Olson slammed one of the lenders, Emirates NB Bank.
Olson told the Department of State that Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey “pointed out that Dubai-based Emirates NBD appears to remain out-of-step with other major international financial with respect to its sizable Iranian exposure.”
Olson reported the Emirates NBD Chairman “Ahmed al Tayer erratically dismissed Under Secretary Levey’s concerns about doing business for Iran with a mix of hostility, remorse and assurances of submission.”
Noor Bank, another bank which provided GEMS with financing, helped Iran process foreign currency receipts. MarketWatch reported that in 2012 “Dubai’s Noor Islamic Bank had been a primary conduit for returning foreign-currency oil receipts to Iran.”
GEMS is owned exclusively by billionaire Varkey and his family. Four of the five directors are Varkey family members.
The Varkey Group Ltd, the parent company of GEMS, and its shares are held “in a trust by a private trust company for the benefit of the members of the Varkey family,” according to the 2013 bond prospectus. Varkey’s net worth is estimated at $2.1 billion.
All of the Varkey group’s activities appear to be transacted by MaplesFS, the largest law firm in the Cayman Islands.
As stated by GEMS in its prospectus, “Under existing Cayman Islands laws will not be subject to taxation in the Cayman Islands.” It also tells potential investors, “The Cayman Islands currently have no income, corporation or capital gains tax and no estate duty, inheritance or gift tax.”
Bill has been a frequent visitor to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the trips often deal with money. As previously reported by TheDCNF, shortly after leaving the White House, Bill pocketed $15 million in an investment deal with the Dubai Investment Group that included as his business partner, the country’s authoritarian ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin-Rashid al-Marktoum.
Bill also collected $500,000 for a single speech he delivered in Abu Dhabi in 2011. He was paid by the UAE’s royal family. The United Arab Emirates is a monarchy where no elections are held and human rights abuses, especially of foreign laborers, are rampant.
TheDCNF contacted the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation about the GEMS Education relationship, but received no response.
TheDCNF also reached out to GEMS in Dubai but there was not reply by press time.