Skip to comments.Saudi Bank Tied To Terror Has U.S. Links
Posted on 11/10/2001 3:48:40 AM PST by kattracks
A Saudi Arabian bank suspected of funneling money to a charity linked to Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network conducts business in this country through two major U.S. banks.
The National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia maintains correspondent banking relationships with JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of America, according to a worldwide banking database.
According to the Internet database (www.bankersalmanac.com), National Commercial does not have a branch or agency here and uses the two American banks to conduct a variety of transactions, including payments, wire transfers and stock trades.
Kristin Lemkau, a spokeswoman for JP Morgan Chase, confirmed that the bank has a correspondent relationship with the Saudi bank but added that JP Morgan Chase "is cooperating with the U.S. terrorism investigation in every possible way."
Jeff Hershberger, a spokesman for the Bank of America, refused to say whether it has any relationship with the Saudi bank but promptly offered a disclaimer: "Bank of America would not knowingly do business with individuals or organizations or businesses involved in illegal activities."
U.S. officials allege that Yasin Al-Qadi, a wealthy Saudi businessman whose assets have been frozen by the Treasury Department, funneled money from National Commercial to Al Qaeda through a charity called Muwafaq Foundation.
Because of suspected terrorist links, the Treasury Department has seized assets and barred numerous banks and financial entities from doing business in the United States.
A banking official who asked not to be identified said new anti-terror legislation is flawed because it gives the government great leeway in determining which business gets blacklisted.
The official said political considerations could favor institutions associated with crucial allies like Saudi Arabia, paving the way for terrorist funds to continue to flow through U.S. banks.
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan acknowledged that the Treasury consults the President before freezing assets or barring trade with specific people or organizations.
Two Saudi government agencies bought 50% of National Commercial in 1999. The other half is owned by several shareholders, including members of the Mahfouz family, which gave up its majority ownership to the government.
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined comment on the bank and its activities.