Re: Seattle Times Op-Ed on Kerry

Randy Black writes:Thanks to Rob Gaudet for the interesting reprint of Tim Ashby’s story in the Seattle Times. Mr. Ashby reminds us of the investigation that Senator Kerry carried out. That very investigation pretty much proved that the BCCI scandal can be traced back to corruption in the Carter Administration, courtesy of his Office of Management and Budget Director (OMB), Bert Lance.
One name among many, jumped out at me as I read the Ashby contribution to the op-ed page of the Seattle paper. It was the mention of the famous terrorist, Abu Nidal. This was the same Abu Nidal, born Sabri al-Banna into a wealthy Palestinian family in the 1930s (when Britain was in control), and who, until his death in Iraq in 2002, had been harbored for many years in Baghdad by Saddam Hussein. What a small world. Who was Nidal’s personal banker? None other than the same BCCI which was allowed  into US banking circles under the corrupt protection of the Carter Administration, courtesy of OMB Director Bert Lance! 
Nidal was the terrorist whose sole raison d’étre was the elimination of Israel and anyone who dared negotiate with it. Nidal thought the PLO was too forgiving when he broke with them and continued his assassinations that resulted in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of persons around the world. How bad was he? Even Egypt, Syria and Libya kicked him out, and he found refuge and financial support for his terrorist activities in Iraq during the final years of his life.
Now, about the 1987 ‘non’ BCCI, ‘non’ loan to the Texas exploration firm for which Dubya worked in those days: A tiny correction to Mr. Ashby’s assertion – The $25 million was an investment in the firm, not a loan per se, and came NOT from BCCI, but from the Union des Banques Suisses. That Swiss Bank, in turn, held the minority interest in the Banque de Commerce et de Placements, a Geneva-based subsidiary of BCCI. Thus, Mr. Ashby’s claim is at best simply incomplete.
Further, Mr. Ashby, in his efforts to educate the Seattle public about Dubya’s work history, overlooked the fact that BCCI (founded by Pakistanis) really came into its heyday under the protection of the Carter Administration and Carter’s OMB Director, Bert Lance in 1977. It was President Carter who asked Congress to suspend federal ethics laws so that Lance could continue his failing banking operations in Georgia, while working in the Carter Administration, yet also  help BCCI secretly purchase a $2 billion bank in Washington, D.C. Congress acquiesced to the Carter request.
Thus, by the time that Bert Lance had done his job, BCCI had operations across the USA, and owned banks in seven states and the nation’s capital. It was only two years later that the Federal Reserve bank finally was able to investigate the shenanigans and subpoenaed Lance’s attorneys, Clark Clifford (Defense Secretary under LBJ and later a BCCI lawyer) and Robert Altman (Clifford’s partner). The two defended Lance’s banking practices with a series of lies to the Fed. In fact, the two lawyers were directors of a BCCI-owed bank while working for the Carter Administration.
When the dust began to settle, the public found that Lance and his lawyers had covered up BCCI’s investment in his own National Bank of Georgia, which was in serious trouble by then. It turned out that Lance’s own attorneys had arranged the BCCI investment as a payback for Lance’s (and Carter’s) support in Washington. Of course, the entire affair orchestrated by Bert Lance was highly illegal. The BCCI group even repaid a personal loan of about $3.4 million on behalf of Bert Lance to another bank. Lance’s attorney’s Altman and Clifford paid the regulators more than $20 million for their part in the crimes. BCCI auditors Price Waterhouse and Earnst & Young paid $125 million to the defunct bank’s customers. Other familiar names popped into the fray. Hillary Clinton represented one of the defendants.
There are still unresolved questions about the political patronage that helped shield BCCI principals from a full reckoning, and in particular about how a crooked Pakistani-Arab bank got control of the largest bank in Washington, D.C. In this respect, the Altman-Clifford settlement is particularly striking. At issue has always been whether the two knew that BCCI was the real owner of First American, of which they were, respectively, president and chairman.

In short, if the Carter Administration had done its job, instead of skirting federal banking laws, today we would not even be talking about an investment in a small oil company that Dubya worked for in 1987. Final note: BCCI was finally bankrupt by the early 90s and it is common knowledge that Bert Lance profited to the tune of millions of dollars according to a Feb. 7, 1992 NY Times story.

The Senate report, by John Kerry and Hank Brown is at:

RH: I know nothing about this case, but I do not believe President Carter himself was corrupt.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: November 19, 2004