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Thursday, September 30, 2010

More on Bill Benter's connection to Israel

You will recall that Bill Benter was the friend of J Street who allegedly solicited a donation of more than $800,000 from a previously anonymous Fillipina resident of Hong Kong named Connie Esdicul (yes, that's his Facebook picture). Roger Simon comes up with a bit more about Mr. Benter.
His own foundation is determinedly and publicly apolitical, showing uncontroversial donations like the Boy Scouts. But the Way Back Machine (2007) tells us a bit more about this guy than that he had a Tibetan Buddhist wedding. He was a supporter of a group called CALME, a Middle East peace organization with peacenik rhetoric similar to J Street’s. The list of CALME’s supporters is short, but if you scroll it, you will find William Benter and further up S. Daniel Abraham, another of the small number of donors on the J Street 990.

This all happened at virtually the same time Benter’s “associate” Connie made her donation. Does this mean Benter laundered 800k of gambling profits through Esdicul to J Street? Of course not. But it certainly sounds suspicious.

And there’s more. Benter had a partner named Alan Wood, now deceased. Wood made frequent trips to Manila, apparently. I could go on, but I’d like our crack investigating team to do more research.

For those who don't recognize the name, S. Daniel Abraham is the founder of SlimFast and a longtime activist for Leftist causes in Israel. If you scroll down, there are some other interesting names on that list.

But back to Alan Wood (actually Woods), you can find his obituary here.
Working as an actuary in the late 1970s, Woods learned to count cards at blackjack and became a serious gambler for the first time in his life, travelling the world for three years as a professional card counter and undertaking all kinds of disguises and subterfuge to avoid identification by the world's casinos.

But his earnings at blackjack were tiny compared with his subsequent career in racing. Woods turned to horseracing in New Zealand in 1982 then shifted his life and focus to Hong Kong, and its big pools, in 1984.

A founding partner in the earliest computer betting team in Hong Kong, which split after a dispute between the partners in the early 1990s, Woods established his own hugely successful betting operation, with employees based around the world and had built a fortune estimated at more than US$600 million before his death.

Even as Woods grew to the point of dominating the Hong Kong betting scene in recent years, even over and above other successful computer teams, he also enjoyed his wealth and was famed in Hong Kong racing circles for his bacchanalian parties and celebrations.

Once a regular in Wan Chai's bars and nightclubs, Woods had become more reclusive and relocated to Manila several years ago, but his operation continued to annually lay out between one and two per cent of Hong Kong's entire racing turnover (which totalled US$64 billion in the last completed season).

He is survived by two ex-wives, two sons and a daughter.
Okay Roger, is Connie Esdicul Alan Woods' last significant other? Or one of the ex-wives (which seems less likely)? Or was she just domestic help that he took with him from the Philippines to Hong Kong? Hmmm.

There's another obituary for Woods here. It mentions another name we have not heard before: Zeljko Ranogajec, who is also known as the Loch Ness Monster. No connection to J Street yet.

But let me leave you with this: Alan Woods died on January 26, 2008. Connie Esdicul put her money into J Street sometime after June 30, 2008. Hmmm.


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