Former US President Bill Clinton has been paid $5.625 million since 2011 by Dubai’s GEMS Education to lead the company’s charity arm, according to tax returns released in the US this month.
Clinton, who served as 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, was appointed honorary chairman of the Varkey GEMS Foundation in December 2010.
The payments he received as part of his role were detailed in tax returns released recently by his wife, former First Lady and US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, as part of her candidacy for the presidential race in 2016.
The tax returns state that Clinton was paid $500,000 by GEMS Education in 2011, $1.25 million in 2012, $1.75 million in 2013 and $2.125 million in 2014, amounting to a total of $5.625 million to date. Figures for 2015 were not disclosed.
The documents also show Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to deliver a speech at the World Travel and Tourism Council in Abu Dhabi on April 9, 2013. The tax returns revealed the Clinton couple collectively earned a total of more than $139 million between 2007 and 2014, mainly from speeches and book deals.
Announcing Clinton’s appointment in December 2010, the chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey said: “We are honoured and privileged to have President Clinton as our honorary chairman. The foundation’s aim is to impact the lives of 10 million underprivileged children globally and I know that with his support we have a good chance of reaching that objective. Up to 70 million school age children worldwide do not have access to education, that is a travesty and we intend to do something about that by using all the resources available to us.”
“By working with international organisations that promote better educational standards, we seek to use our best talent, insight, and intellectual property to make a vital difference to the knowledge, skills and abilities of school leaders and teachers, who make the essential difference in a child’s educational journey.”
Commenting on his appointment, Clinton added: “Access to education provides the means to lift children out of poverty and that an educated child affects not only the child itself, but his or her family and the wider community. The Varkey GEMS Foundation's commitment will bring this opportunity to millions more children around the world by improving the quality and access to education for those less fortunate. One of the things I have learned travelling the world is that intelligence is evenly distributed but opportunity is not.
“Our ability to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, like poverty, is only possible when the private sector works alongside, and in partnership with, intergovernmental agencies and NGO’s and the Varkey GEMS Foundation is an excellent example of that. Recently, the Foundation announced a partnership with UNESCO to train 10,000 school Principals in Ghana, Kenya and India.”
The Varkey GEMS Foundation works with a number of former politicians to promote its educational message, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, through his Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who is a member of the foundation’s Global Advisory Board.
GEMS Education declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business.
In June, GEMS Education reported its revenue grow by 20 percent in the year through to March, helped by rising fees and pupil numbers.
The National newspaper reported that GEMS, which operates more than 50 schools across 19 countries in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, earned $674.8 million in revenue in the year through March, up 20 percent on the previous year’s figure of $559.6 million.
GEMS said its revenue increase was down to improvement enrolment numbers, which rose by nearly 9 percent to 98,000, and improved annual revenue per pupil.
Dubai's Fajr Capital led a group, including Blackstone and Bahrain sovereign fund Mumtalakat, in acquiring a "significant minority stake" GEMS Education in October 2014.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.