When Adnan Khashoggi was still a boarding school student in Egypt, he introduced the fathers of two classmates. One, an Egyptian, made towels and sheets; the other, a Libyan, was in the market for those items.
Khashoggi pocketed 200 pounds from the deal, along with the discovery that “it’s only (by) putting people together (that) you make money.”
With that knowledge, he set out on an extraordinary entrepreneurial life dedicated to the accumulation of spectacular wealth and the cultivation of contacts all over the world.
He has been well rewarded, but in recent years he has been dogged by controversy, by financial problems and, on Friday, by his indictment on racketeering charges along with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Until recently, the Saudi businessman’s life was marked only by opulence. He hopped from continent to continent in his own DC-8. He reportedly had luxury homes in 10 cities.
The balding, rotund Khashoggi, 53, is the son of a physician to the Saudi royal family. He was educated in economics at California State University at Chico.
While in California, he arranged to export American goods to Saudi Arabia. When he returned home, he used his royal connections to continue acting as broker between the West and Saudi Arabia.
His Triad Holding Corp. branched out--into Kenyan real estate, Asian hotels, Indonesian shipping, French fashions, Lebanese furniture, Arizona cattle and an import company in the Philippines.
Khashoggi made headlines in 1986 when it was revealed that he had brokered the U.S.-Iran arms deal that was at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal. Khashoggi said he lost $10 million on the deal, but that he never expected to make a profit--if the result was peace between Iran and Iraq, he said, he would make money by helping to rebuild those two countries.
Khashoggi’s wealth, meanwhile, seemed to vanish. His Triad America Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection. Work stopped on a $400-million office-shopping complex in Salt Lake City. A British company sued because Khashoggi defaulted on two $4 million loans; authorities temporarily seized two Khashoggi jets and his apartment on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue.
Finally, Khashoggi defaulted on a loan to the Sultan of Brunei, who claimed the collateral--his yacht, the Nabila.