The president of the bank involved in the attempt to take over Financial General Bankshares of Washington helped funnel cash payments to the former prime minister of Pakistan, according to a White Paper prepared by the Pakistani government.
Former Premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto - who has been sentenced to death by the country's new government - received between 20 million and 30 million rupees - $2 million to $3 million - in cash form Aga Hassan Abedi, president of Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the White Paper reports.
The role of Abedi and his bank in passing the cash to Bhutto is the latest issue raised by Financial General, which is trying to block a take over by a group linked to BCCI.
With the aid of fomrer budget director Bert Lance, four Middle Eastern investors associated with BCCI last year acquired more than 20 percent of the stock of Financial General. To settle a complaint by the Securites and Exchange Commission charging the stock was acquired illegally, the group has agreed to make a public tender offer for the rest of Financial General's stock. The tender offer is expected to be made through a BCCI subsidiary.
In their continuing effort to prevent the tender offer from succeeding, Financial General officials have attacked the Arab investors in court and raised questions about the management of BCCI.
At a hearing in U.S. District Court here Friday, Financial General attorneys will ask judge Oliver Gasch to force disclosure of documents allegedly indicating questionable banking practices by BCCI.
Their main target is a report on BCCI's operations prepared for Bank of America of San Francisco, the largest bank in the United States, which owns about 24 percent of BCCI.
The Bank of America report shows, "they run this bank in London just like Lance ran his bank in Georgia," said one Financial General source.
According to court papers filed here, the Bank of America report shows BCCI made millions of dollars of loans to insiders - including persons involved in the Financial General fight - made risky real estate loans in the Middle East and did not provide adequate reserves for potential loan losses.
Bank of America is opposing public disclosure of the report. They said in motions filed with Judge Gasch that disclosure would "substantially and materially damage" the bank's business in the Middle East.
BCCI's alleged ties to former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto are not yet an issue in the lawsuit, but have been pointed out by sources close to Financial General.
The government of Pakistan implies the alleged payments to Bhutto in a massive White Paper about the country's election of March, 1977 and events that followed.
Bhutto won the elections, but charges of widespread irregularities produced massive civil disturbances, leading the Pakistani Army to take control of the country. Bhutto was tried and sentenced to death for allegedly plotting the murder of a political foe. He is appealing the verdict and remains in prison. The government White Paper is viewed as an attempt by the current Pakistani regime to justify its actions.
In the White Paper is an affidavit signed by Afzal Said Khan, identified as former secretary to Bhutto. Khan alleged Abedi made frequent trips to Pakistan, each time bringing cash to Bhutto.
The cash was allegedly for "election purposes" and came from "a foreign head of state." The name of the contributor is deleted from Khan's statement, but Financial General sources indicate it was Sheik Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emerates, a group of oil-rich mini-states.
A long-standing friend and ally of Bhutto, Sheik Zayed has close ties to BCCI and the Financial General takeover. He is a major shareholder of BCCI, controlling about 20 percent of the shares of the London bank. Two of his sons - Sheik Sultan Bin Zaid Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and his younger brother Sheik Mohammed - are among the four Arab investors who own stock in Financial General. Each of them owns about 5 percent of the $2.2 billion Washington bank holding company.
Kraus said Bank of America officials produced a stack of documents at one meeting in London on Aug. 14. During the session Financial General counsel Martin Thaler flipped through the stack and came up with a plastic covered document entitled "Credit Examination Report."
When the meeting ended Bank of America attorneys allegedly told Kraus and Thaler they could have copies of all the documents as soon as copies could be made. Later, however, they refused to turn over the copies and Kraus filed motions in Judge Gasch's court to get the papers.