Posts Tagged ‘BCCI’

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Revisiting Ghaith Pharaon’s ties to Bin Laden

March 28, 2013

A French parliamentary report released shortly after 9/11 revealed that Ghaith Pharoan and other Saudi elites were “directly linked to [Osama] Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities…”

This is the same Ghaith Pharoan who was involved with the $1.7 billion savings and loan scandals of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and CenTrust in the 1980s.  Although not officially charged with financing terrorism, Pharoan remains under U.S. indictment for “having been a front man in B.C.C.I.’s secret and unlawful acquisitions of American banks, including the National Bank of Georgia and the Independence Bank of Encino, Calif.”

Like many prominent Saudis, Pharoan peddled influence in the U.S. prior to his indictment without regard to political party, allegedly forming relationships with Henry Kissinger, members of the Carter administration including Bert Lance, and George W. Bush before he became involved in politics—a sign of the great lengths to which the Saudis have gone to curry favor with American officials.

The Guardian examined the French report (h/t History Commons) in this difficult-to-Google article below.  Thanks to Rushette for suggesting more coverage related to this subject.

City ‘haven’ for terrorist money laundering

Report says Bin Laden has extensive interests in UK

Osama bin Laden’s extensive financial interests in Britain are outlined today in a French parliamentary report that says the City is a money laundering haven for billions of pounds of tainted and terrorist money.

Up to 40 companies, banks and individuals based in Britain can legitimately be suspected of maintaining direct or indirect relations with the terrorist, according to a 70-page annexe, The Economic Environment of Osama bin Laden, attached to the French report. Compiled by an independent team of financial experts whose identity the French parliamentarians have undertaken not to reveal, the annexe reveals that the structure of Bin Laden’s financial network bears a striking similarity to that used by the collapsed BCCI bank for its fraudulent operations in the 1980s.

“This document clearly shows the great permeability of the British banking and financial system and the fragility of the controls operated at its points of entry,” write the authors of the French report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian.

The annexe establishes numerous links between Bin Laden with international arms and oil dealers and even members of the Saudi elite.

It also pinpoints the relationship and its subsquent breakdown between Osama bin Laden and his family’s holding company, Saudi BinLadin Group, and its multiple subsidiaries, investments and offshoots in Europe.

Many of the individuals concerned, several with British connections, were also involved in various senior roles with BCCI, the report says. Hundreds of banks and companies are mentioned, from Sudan, Geneva and London to Oxford, the Bahamas and Riyadh.

The names of half a dozen former BCCI clients and officials, including Ghaith Pharaon, wanted by the US authorities for fraud, and Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker who was closely involved with the bank before it was closed down by the Bank of England in 1991, recur throughout the annexe and are directly linked to Bin Laden through banks, holding companies, foundations and charities, at least one of which, the International Development Foundation, has its headquarters in London.

“The convergence of financial and terrorist interests, apparent particularly in Great Britain and in Sudan, does not appear to have been an obstacle with regard to the objectives pursued [by Bin Laden],” the annexe concludes. “The conjunction of a terrorist network attached to a vast financing structure is the dominant trait of operations conducted by bin Laden”…

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BCCI bankrolled the father of the “Islamic bomb”

March 15, 2013

Founded by a Pakistani banker with prominent Gulf investors, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) became a depository of wealth acquired by Arab officials during the oil embargo against the U.S. in the 1970s.

BCCI took their profits and invested in fraudulent enterprises.  According to History Commons, BCCI also set up a charitable foundation in the 1980s which gave most of its money to A.Q. Khan, the scientist created the first nuclear bomb ever possessed by an Islamic country—Pakistan:

1981 and After: BCCI Charity Front Funnels Money to A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Program

In 1981, the criminal BCCI bank sets up a charity called the BCCI Foundation. Pakistani Finance Minister Ghulam Ishaq Khan grants it tax-free status, and it supposedly spends millions on charitable purposes. Khan serves as the chairman of the foundation while also running the books for A. Q. Khan’s Kahuta Research Laboratories. Ghulam Ishaq Khan will be president of Pakistan from 1988 to 1993. (Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 126-127) BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi announces that he will donate up to 90% of BCCI’s profits to charity through the foundation, and he develops a positive reputation from a few well-publicized charitable donations. But the charity is actually used to shelter BCCI profits. Most of the money it raises goes to A. Q. Khan’s nuclear program and not to charitable causes. For instance, in 1987 it gives a single $10 million donation to an institute headed by A. Q. Khan. Millions more go to investments in a front company owned by BCCI figure Ghaith Pharaon. (Beaty and Gwynne, 1993, pp. 290-291) An investigation by the Los Angeles Times will reveal that less than 10% of the money went to charity. (Los Angeles Times, 8/9/1991) BCCI uses other means to funnel even more money into A. Q. Khan’s nuclear program.

Later on, Khan sold nuclear secrets to rogue regimes to develop their own nuclear programs.  BCCI has also been implicated in financial deals with Osama Bin Laden, and Khan’s men may have shared nuclear information with Al Qaeda.

Just a few weeks ago, Khan, who formed a political party of his own, announced a coalition with Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.  What could go wrong?

Thanks to Twitter user @RushetteNY for suggesting coverage related to this topic.