Speech By Bill Clinton On Behalf Of Malaysian Entrepreneur Vinod Sekhar Irks Investors
Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.
“You should be proud of this man,” Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.
But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president’s glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.
“I believe he is using Bill Clinton — this is what he does,” said Abdul Azim Zabidi, a former board member of Petra Group who claims Mr. Sekhar broke numerous promises to him and still owes him $100,000. “He just wants to get new investors.”
Another investor, the actor Bruce Willis, recently settled a lawsuit with Petra over the return of $900,000. The company called it a “misunderstanding.”
And this week, after a 10-year partnership, a member of the Malaysian royal family quit as Petra chairman, saying he was tired of the many “surprises” during his affiliation with the company.
“Enough is enough,” the former chairman said.
Mr. Sekhar declined to comment. A spokesman for the Petra Group, Andrew Murray-Watson, said that Mr. Zabidi’s assertion that he was still owed money was “utter rubbish,” and that the Clinton event was held as a memorial for Mr. Sekhar’s late father, a scientist who invented an environmentally sound way to recycle tires.
“The idea that Vinod organized this event purely for public relations purposes is frankly ludicrous, and insulting to the memory of his father,” Mr. Murray-Watson said.
Officials with the Obama transition team said they did not vet Mr. Sekhar’s background before Mr. Clinton’s speech. The speech was one of the last Mr. Clinton will deliver without being reviewed by a State Department ethics panel, a requirement he has agreed to follow if Mrs. Clinton is confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state. Mr. Clinton also agreed to have his fees from business dealings and foreign speeches reviewed by the White House counsel’s office, if necessary.
Read the whole report HERE