Friday, December 18, 2009

Taxpayers Give $50 million to Egypt for an "Endowment"

President Obama bragged he would partner with the Middle East in his historic Cairo speech. Who knew it would include a $50 million taxpayer funded endowment, whittled down from $200 million in an earlier Senate version? Most trust funds have a stated objective. This one will "further the shared interests of Egypt and the United States." It can't get more general than that.

Who runs the endowment? Who decides how the proceeds from $50 million in American money is used? Is it a board of directors? One article says it is Hosni Mubarak's play money. I want that confirmed or denied by federal officials.

This points to Obama's main meme: public-private partnerships (PPP's). American public money will start a private Middle East endowment. President Obama can show it off at his Summit on Entrepreneurship with the Muslin World in the first quarter of 2010.

Hillary Clinton revealed foreign aid would go private. Who knew it would be a taxpayer funded endowment, directed by an Egyptian President serving a lifelong term?

How might Hosni use the money? Maybe, he'll pay off an American contractor, ARINC for its work at the Cairo Airport. ARINC is an affiliate of The Carlyle Group, which also has a Middle East/North Africa fund. Could Hosni's US taxpayer funded endowment invest in an American private equity underwriter (PEU)? Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein knows stranger things have happened.

Watch the $50 million if you can. Egypt may call itself a democracy, but information does not freely flow. How will they spend the new endowment or America's $1.3 billion in direct military aid?

Update 11-30-14:  Mubarek, convicted of embezzling public funds, was found not guilty of murdering 239 protestors in 2011