By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 10, 2007
Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani reaffirmed yesterday that he continues to hold a financial stake in the security consulting firm he launched after leaving the New York mayor's office and said the company's client list will remain confidential.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Giuliani defended the arrangement, saying the public is aware of every "significant" client of Giuliani Partners.
"Just about every single client of Giuliani Partners, which is my security company, has been discussed, has been examined, certainly every significant one," he said.
There has been considerable media attention given to Giuliani's private business associations. For the past year, though, Giuliani has declined to identify his clients on the grounds that they entered into confidentiality agreements with his firm.
Giuliani formed the consulting firm in early 2002, offering "management consulting service to governments and business," and over the next five years it earned more than $100 million. That income, along with a robust speaking schedule, helped transform the moderately well-off public servant into a globe-trotting consultant whose net worth is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Giuliani Partners has represented a pharmaceutical company mired in a lengthy investigation, a confessed drug smuggler looking to ensure that his security company could do business with the federal government and the horse-racing industry, which was eager to regain public confidence after a betting scandal.
But many of the firm's clients have never been listed on its Web site or identified publicly by associates, and two of the most controversial arrangements among them surfaced only in recent weeks. One involved a 2005 agreement to provide security advice to the government of Qatar. The second stemmed from a deal to assist a partnership proposing a Southeast Asian gambling venture. Among the partners were relatives of a Hong Kong billionaire who has ties to the government of North Korea's Kim Jong Il and has been linked to international organized crime, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
NBC's Tim Russert asked Giuliani about both relationships during an hour-long interview yesterday.
"Are you aware that the interior minister [of Qatar] appointed in 2001 and reappointed this year by the emir of Qatar is Abdul al-Thani, the former minister of Islamic affairs and a strict Wahhabi Muslim who has been identified in U.S. press and government reports as a protector of Khalid Sheik Mohammed?" Russert asked, referring to a Nov. 7 Wall Street Journal report about Giuliani's business dealings in Qatar with some of the same people who were alleged to have protected Mohammed, a Sept. 11 plotter.
"Am I aware of this? Yes, I'm aware of it now," Giuliani said. The candidate then said that doing business with Qatar should be encouraged, not demonized.
"This is a country that's modernizing. It's a country that's moving in a direction that we want it to move in," Giuliani said.
About the Hong Kong family with ties to the North Korean leader, Giuliani said, "I think the person involved, if it's correct, was a 1 percent owner that had no involvement with us, we never worked for, had nothing to do with."
"When you deal with clients, and you take on the problems of clients, and you try to help them, it may be that somewhere, someplace, they did something that was questionable or arguably questionable," Giuliani told Russert. "The things we have done with them are honorable, ethical, useful and helpful."