BCCI Update

<i> Associated Press</i>

There were several developments Friday in the scandal surrounding the Bank of Credit & Commerce International. Here they are:

MIAMI--An alleged coffee smuggler linked to BCCI was indicted on tax evasion charges, the U.S. attorney announced. The indictment accused Munther Bilbeisi, whose brother runs BCCI’s branch in Jordan, and business associate Kenneth Grushoff of hiding smuggling income in 1984 through ’87. The indictment alleged that Bilbeisi, who had a BCCI account under Coffee Inc., made “substantial profits from the sale of coffee, partly by smuggling and evasion of coffee quotas.”

NEW YORK--A bankruptcy judge extended for 10 days an order freezing Luxembourg-based BCCI’s estimated $310 million in U.S. assets. The decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Garrity came over objections from state and federal regulators involved in liquidating the bank’s assets. They also argued that the freeze could interfere with their investigations of BCCI. The liquidation by government agencies was under way in New York and California when court-appointed liquidators from London and Luxembourg obtained the freeze last week.

DHAKA, Bangladesh--Foreign Minister Mustafizur Rahman left for Abu Dhabi to seek the help of its ruler in reopening BCCI in Bangladesh. The Persian Gulf emirate’s leader, Sheik Zayed al-Nahyan, last year led a group of Arab financiers in a takeover of BCCI’s worldwide operations. Rahman is carrying a letter from Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for al-Nahyan, officials said.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan--A senior government official said it would be politically “suicidal” to send BCCI’s ailing founder to New York to face fraud and embezzlement charges. Pakistan has received no request from Washington to extradite the wheelchair-bound Agha Hasan Abedi. Abedi, a former deputy and the bank itself were indicted last month on charges of massive fraud, falsifying records and stealing $20 million. He denies any wrongdoing during his 17 years at BCCI’s helm.