Clinton 'will make tens of millions' working for funds tycoon
Bill Clinton stands to make "tens of millions" of dollars by working for a billionaire friend who made his fortune in supermarkets. The former president will share in the profits of investment funds run by Ron Burkle. In return, he offers Mr Burkle advice and lends his reputation to the funds. He has no day-to-day role and has invested little of his own money.
The New York Times, which spoke to Mr Burkle and Mr Clinton's aides, said the three funds that the former president advised contained more than $1 billion (?560 million). Two invest in poor areas of the United States where traditional firms are unwilling to risk their cash. A third invests overseas. Mr Clinton's deal will pay out if the two domestic funds produce returns exceeding nine per cent during their lifetimes. So far, one is up by 26 per cent and the other by 51 per cent. The former president is already receiving payments from the overseas fund and will take a third of the profits when it is dissolved, not sooner than 2011.
Mr Burkle told the paper: "If we make money, he makes money." He would not say how much but The New York Times report said: "If the funds perform as well as Mr Burkle's other investment funds have over the past two decades, Mr Clinton's share could reach tens of millions of dollars."
Mr Clinton met Mr Burkle, a Californian, in 1992 after hearing that his chain of supermarkets had been spared during the Los Angeles riots. The president was told that the company had a reputation for treating customers well. Mr Burkle said they now spent at least 500 hours a year together, often travelling around the world in his Boeing 757. Interviewed at Mr Clinton's Harlem office, he said the former president was a great communicator who gave credibility to the Yucaipa funds.
There is no suggestion that Mr Clinton is doing anything wrong but the revelation is certain to be seized on by Republicans looking for ammunition to use against Sen Hillary Clinton if, as widely expected, she runs for the presidency in 2008. If she reached the White House, Mr Clinton would be the first man to be dubbed "first gentleman" as the presidential spouse.
The Clintons have both made millions from their autobiographies and Mr Clinton commands six-figure sums at speaking engagements. But the couple have a troubled history with personal investments. Their failed Whitewater development project in 1979 provoked numerous allegations of wrongdoing and three inquiries, although none found evidence of criminal conduct. The Clintons say that criticism of their financial affairs is politically motivated.