The CIA’s Bank In Washington

south-america-2008-79(Excerpted from Chapter 6: BCCI: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)

BCCI was thrust into the limelight when in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics & International Relations; Noriega’s intelligence chief Jose Blandon, fingered BCCI as Noriega’s key drug bank.CIA

Jack Blum served as special counsel to the investigation, which was a response to the Iran/Contra arms scandal.  Blum later resigned his position in anger when it became clear that a thorough investigation of BCCI would be scuttled.

The pressure to dumb down the inquiry came largely from Sen. Clairborne Pell (D-RI), a close friend to Clark Clifford, the former US Secretary of Defense whose First American Bank had been taken over by BCCI.  The same month Blum resigned subcommittee chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) received a $4,000 contribution from Clifford and his First American partner Robert Altman.

Clifford, who served as presidential adviser during several administrations, assured US banking authorities in 1982 that when Persian Gulf investors- the same ones who owned BCCI- purchased First American that year, the two banks would be completely autonomous.  In fact, BCCI took a 25% share of First American where Clifford remained chairman.  Altman was the bank’s president and the two were partners in a Washington, DC law firm.  In March 1992, Time magazine revealed that First American Bank & Trust, the largest bank in the nation’s capital, was the CIA’s principal bank. [233]

In 1994 Clifford found himself at the center of another scandal.  Clifford was the lawyer who oversaw the Harriman family trust.  The Harrimans are heirs to the Union Pacific Railroad fortune and later merged their banking interests with Brown Brothers to create Brown Brothers Harriman, where George Bush Sr.’s father Prescott worked.  Clifford and Pamela Harriman, who served as trustee to her family’s nest egg, invested $23 million of the trust money with Robert Brennan and Eugene Mulvihhill’s Playboy Club resort hotel in New Jersey, which went bankrupt in 1993.  Pamela, Averell Harriman’s widow, was now US Ambassador to France, where accusations of CIA commercial spying were growing stronger by the day.  According to Le Monde and French intelligence, the agents involved were all working under Paris US Embassy cover, where Pamela was in charge.

The Harriman heirs sued Pamela and Clifford when their money went missing and both denied wrongdoing. [234]  Was the money diverted through the Playboy resort into CIA off-the-shelf commercial spy operations in France?  Pamela had been at the center of a much-publicized high society love affair during the 1950’s.  After divorcing Winston Churchill’s son, she took up with French financier Elie de Rothschild.  When they broke up she moved to New York and, after an interlude with a Broadway producer, returned to her champagne tastes and married Averell Harriman. [235]

While Noriega was instructed by the CIA to use BCCI accounts in Panama to collect his $200,000/year Company salary, he also controlled Panamanian Government accounts at BCCI’s London branch.  The CIA also paid Noriega through BCCI accounts at First American Bank. [236]  Noriega began pilfering the Panamanian Treasury in 1982, just as Secord, Clines and North were launching the Enterprise.  At that time the general was a member of a military intelligence unit of the Panamanian National Guard.  A year later Noriega rose to head of the Panamanian Defense Forces and de facto leader of the country, where he helped North set up dummy corporations to fund and arm the contras.  These fronts received weapons from Syrian heroin ringleader and CIA COREA member Manzer al-Kassar and were all affiliated with Banco de IberoAmerica, a known cocaine money laundry for the Medellin Cartel.  BCCI bank records of Noriega’s transactions would later mysteriously disappear while under DEA guard in Panama City.

The man most instrumental in bringing BCCI to the US was Jackson T. Stephens.  The Stephens family is one of the richest families in Arkansas and controls the state’s largest bank- Worthen Bank & Trust Company.  Jack’s sister-in-law Mary Anne Stephens was Arkansas Finance Chairwoman for the 1988 Bush Presidential campaign.  In 1992 Worthen Bank played the other side, bankrolling the biggest part of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton’s successful run at the Oval Office. [237]  Numerous investigations have pointed to Worthen’s extensive involvement in the Mena, Arkansas contra cocaine shipments.  In 1995 Worthen Investments was fined over $250,000 by the NASD for misleading customers regarding mutual fund risk. [238]

BCCI was also cozy with US cable television giant TCI of Denver.  TCI chairman Robert Magness and senior Vice-President Larry Romrell received BCCI loans for a Steamboat Springs development project.  The two were also founding shareholders in Capcom Financial Services, a London-based commodity futures trading firm.  Capcom worked closely with BCCI and its shareholders included Saudi intelligence officials Sheik Kamal Adham, E. Sawad Jawary and A. R. Khalil.  Capcom was founded by former BCCI Treasurer Seyad Ziauddin Ali Akbar, who in 1988 was indicted in Florida for money laundering.  In 1991 Ali Akbar was charged by a Tampa court with aiding and abetting Manuel Noriega in concealing $23 million in drug profits just before Operation Just Cause was launched against Panama. [239]  Was Capcom using commodity futures exchanges in London and Chicago to launder drug money?

Another business front for BCCI was the London-based Attock Oil Company.  Attock too had its roots in Pakistan.  Populist President Zulkafir Bhutto, father of the country’s first woman President Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in a coup launched by General Zia ul-Huq with CIA support, nationalized Attock during the 1970’s.  The nationalization was a death warrant for Bhutto.  President Zia reversed Attock’s fortunes and it reorganized under the leadership of a Saudi with royal family connections named Ghaith R. Pharaon, who also held a big chunk of BCCI stock.  Pharaon fronted for BCCI in its takeovers of Independence Bank of Encino, CA and the National Bank of Georgia.  Other Attock directors were Sheik Kamal Adham, the Saudi Intelligence Chief, and Faisal Saud al-Fulaij of Kuwait Airways and KIFCO.

When Pharaon helped BCCI buy National Bank of Georgia (NGB) in 1978 President Jimmy Carter’s personal banker Bert Lance slid out from under a pile of debt.  Pharaon threw lavish parties at his new Georgia estate, where Carter and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young were often in attendance.  Carter’s own peanut farm would now have BCCI as its banker. [240]  But Carter’s affiliation with BCCI didn’t end here.  He would often travel to Africa with BCCI-founder Abedi, where Carter touted his Global 2000 healthcare program for the Third World, developing the trust of local officials who would then fork over deposits for BCCI to Abedi, money they would never see again.  When BCCI was indicted in Tampa in 1991, Carter quietly withdrew $1.5 million of his own money from the bank.

In 1986 Pharaon secured Independence Bank for BCCI, then proceeded to drive both NGB and Independence into ruin.  After bribing members of the Georgia legislature, BCCI sold NGB to First American for a hugely inflated sum.  The money from First American had actually been fronted by Khalid bin Mahfouz, the billionaire Saudi owner of National Commercial Bank and BCCI’s second largest shareholder.  At the same time, bin Mahfouz bought Pharaon’s shares in BCCI.  The Saudis were playing sugar daddy to Washington insiders and fireman for the CIA, smothering potential scandal with their plentitude of recycled petrodollars.

Two years later when Noriega intelligence chief Jose Blandon spilled the beans before Sen. John Kerry’s subcommittee First American Chairman Clifford and President Altman held a meeting with Noriega’s banker Amjad Awan, who had fleeced the Peruvian government on behalf of the IMF.  The three decided it was time for Clifford and Altman to dump their shares in Commerce American Holdings (CCAH), a Netherlands Antilles holding company that actually owned the CIA’s favorite bank.  Another wealthy Gulf oil sheik was lined up by BCCI president Swaleh Naqvi. Clifford and Altman were given a golden parachute, tripling their money in the sale.  Though the two hired PR firm Hill & Knowlton to put a pretty face on the deal, it was later revealed that Clifford made $21 million.

Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com

3 responses to “The CIA’s Bank In Washington

  1. Pingback: The CIA’s Bank In Washington – Today,s Thought

  2. Pingback: The CIA’s Bank In Washington — Left Hook by Dean Henderson | TwistedPolitix

  3. Always the behind the scenes seedy dealings. Nothing to be proud of either. The public is so incredibly unaware – or else too busy watching “Dancing With The Stars” to care.

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