By Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack
IKHWANLEAKS Installment #2
Leaked secret emails published by Arabic sources reveal a $750 million deal between a major U.S. Company that provides crop preservation technology and the Muslim Brotherhood is raising a stink in Egypt when secret emails between Blumberg Grain and the top officials in the Muslim Brotherhood was released by Al-Watan Egyptian news.
The ordeal raises an eyebrow on how business is conducted between a private U.S. company and the notorious organization that was the mother of Al-Qaeda and Hamas.
In one email sent by David Blumberg, Blumberg Grain’s CEO for West Africa, to Ezz Nasser, an apparent intermediary for a top Muslim Brotherhood deputy, Blumberg makes reference to $750 Million in U.S. aid and a letter penned by two U.S. Congressmen – Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) to use as leverage to persuade Khayrat Al-Shater, the senior Muslim Brotherhood leader that such letters would help in releasing the 750 million to the Muslim Brotherhood’s administration.
So unusual was the nature of this communication that there was no reference to a Department of Agriculture or any government ministry official as one sees the norm in such business dealings. The Minister of Agriculture at the time was Sala Abdel-Mo’men and not Khayrat Al-Shater. Astonished, we suspected foul-play that the nature of such secret emails could be fraudulent we asked Blumberg for a comment and shockingly, they did not deny the authenticity or contents of the emails but simply denounced al-Watan’s conclusions. In the emails, Blumberg referenced Diaz-Balart as being on the committee that is “holding back” the $750 Million (email screenshots at bottom of this post) and that the letter secured by Blumberg from the Congressmen should sweeten the deal now that hundreds of millions could be released by the U.S. Government.
A Deal between Blumberg Grain and the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt was not consummated, however based on the evidence it clearly raises questions on ethical standards in which a private company using the leverage or inference to “hold up aid” agreed to by the US Congress to push favor over one company over another based on “friendships” with congressmen.
In his exchanges with the Muslim Brotherhood (see emails with Nasser at bottom of this post), Blumberg attempts to highlight the significance of the Congressional letter because it came from both a Democrat and a Republican. Our request to see the letter written by Diaz-Balart and Deutch went unanswered.
The willingness to deal with al-Shater by a top U.S. Grain company is alarming for additional reasons. Didn’t Blumberg know that in 2012, al-Shater was disqualified for running for President because he had too recently been convicted of criminal activity. In 2008, al-Shater was sentenced to seven years in prison for money laundering.
At the time, Ahram Online reported that al-Shater had been in prison five different times (his current visit constitutes number six).
As for money laundering, al-Shater’s 2008 conviction wasn’t the first time he’d been charged:
In 1992, El-Shater was arrested and accused of money laundering in the case better known as “Salsabeel”, the name of a computer information systems company which he founded together with Brotherhood member Hassan Malek.
Though no investigations or allegations has been raised against Blumberg Grain, any decision to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Shater is one that should raise ethical and judgmental concerns.
The email sent El-Ajyal, by Philip Blumberg, chairman and CEO of Blumberg Captial Partners group to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Al-Shater on August 14, 2012 was just weeks after the Muslim Brotherhood had assumed power in Egypt has alarming quotes:
“Egypt is an important market for the company, but choosing the right local partner is very important. I understand that you [al-Shater] are interested in performing this role, and we are excited to see your interest in the matter.”
All this while al-Shater was not even listed as a member of the Egyptian government during the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime. In matters relating to hundreds of millions of dollars going to Egypt, why would a man who had been convicted of money laundering and who was not part of the government be involved at all?
As the Brotherhood’s Deputy Supreme Guide at the time, al-Shater was an extremely important power broker for the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt. While he may not have been an official member of the government, he clearly had political sway. The letter further indicates that al-Shater would have exclusive rights to use the technology produced by the company, to include participation in Blumberg’s projects in Turkey and Libya.
In March of 2013, the elder Blumberg granted an interview to Business Today. In it, he discussed his company’s plans to invest in Egypt, which was to include a “manufacturing plant and export hub” that “will employ 1,000 Egyptians” with a goal of increasing Egyptian exports by “$6 billion”.
Philip referred to “kick-starting Egypt’s economy with economic development projects” and working with “Egyptian leadership” without making reference to that leadership’s makeup – the Muslim Brotherhood. At this point in time, several of the group’s leaders are in prison and facing trial. It is expected that these email exchanges with Blumberg to be used in the trial of Mohammed Mursi and Khayrat Al-Shater.
In fact, al-Shater is one figure that the Obama administration seemed to take great interest in after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime on July 3, 2013. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Egypt in August of that year and met with the jailed al-Shater for ninety minutes, despite an attempt by al-Shater’s Chief of Staff – Gehad el-Haddad – to diminish both the significance and duration of that meeting.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, el-Haddad was once employed by the Clinton Foundation for five years.
In the emails, Nasser is identified as the Country Manager for Velosi Egypt and Velosi Syria. A Saudi Arabian document that lists the ‘Worldwide Offices’ of Velosi Companies also identifies Nasser as the Egyptian representative:
In this email, the younger Blumberg makes reference to “$750 Million” in foreign aid to Egypt as well as a Congressional letter penned by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) in his capacity as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Rep.
Ted Deutch (D-FL), in his capacity as a member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.[Point of clarification: The younger Blumberg erroneously identified Deutch as the ‘ranking Democrat’ on the ‘House Foreign Relations Committee’. First, ‘ranking’ member refers to the leader of the minority party on any committee. The ranking Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time was Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), not Deutch. Second, there is no such thing as a House Foreign Relations Committee.
There is, however, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We presume Blumberg meant the House Foreign Affairs Committee.]
Blumberg alludes to the letter being about “our project” and that it was sent to “the Egyptian Ambassador”. This could be a reference to Mohamed M. Tawfik, who had been appointed as Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S. by Mohammed Mursi.
According to the El-Ajyal article, in another email, sent around the time of Philip’s email in August of 2012, David Blumberg refers to the two Congressmen as “my father’s friends” who are awaiting a response from Egypt’s ambassador regarding his country’s reaction and that Nasser’s “request has been fulfilled” with the letter from Diaz-Balart and Deutch.
The younger Blumberg, possibly eager to see the deal move forward, is quoted as saying:
[Note: we are not in possession of any of the emails referred to by El-Ajyal or El-Watn from the August, 2012 time frame, only the ones referred to as being from May, 2013.]
“I admire how your administration runs things, but there are other countries interested in the project. It is important to have a clear understanding about the way it’s run.”
Nasser then reportedly communicated with Philip Blumberg to assure him that he had begun working with the Ministry of Commerce to proceed with the project adding,
“I’ve also found a way, in the case of what we were able to combine the amount of
U.S. aid towards the project to create a short list of American companies only.”
Correspondence allegedly ended on September 20, 2012, with a letter from Nasser to Essam el-Haddad and an aid to Philip Blumberg regarding a need to re-schedule a meeting with al-Shater. This is the same el-Haddad mentioned above.
You have received the Congressional letter from Congressman Ted Deutch, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Mario Diaz Balart, member of the House Foreign Appropriations Committee, to the Egyptian Ambassador on our project.
The House Foreign Appropriations Committee allocates all US foreign aid, and is the committee holding back the additional $750 million in American aid. The House Foreign Relations Committee also influences aid and other policy matters toward Egypt.
I hope you and Eng. al-Shater appreciate how extraordinary it is to receive a joint letter from both Democrat and Republican.
Here Blumberg was indicating that the decision to withhold or release aid to Egypt rested – at least partially – in the hands of two Congressmen – one Democrat and one Republican – who penned a letter to Egyptian government officials. Al-Shater forwards such emails to his Chief of Staff and former Clinton Foundation employee, Gehad el-Haddad: