Skip to comments.Bush Is No Good Trade
Posted on 01/19/2002 10:44:54 PM PST by Uncle Bill
Bush Is No Good Trade
By Tom Flocco
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
FEBRUARY 18, 2000
According to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records, on four separate occasions Gov. George W. Bush disregarded federal statutes by failing to file insider stock trade reports on a timely basis, back-dating one trade by some four months. Moreover, one key trade just a few weeks before Iraq invaded Kuwait -- but reported some eight months late after the Gulf War was over -- netted Bush close to $1 million in profit as he sold stock in Harken Energy, an oil company doing business in the Middle East wherein some of his father's largest contributors also maintained substantial positions.
The SEC under President Bush carried out an incomplete investigation of the younger Bush's pre-Gulf War trade in 1991 after key presidential advisor George Jr. claimed that he filed a report, but that the SEC had most likely lost it. (No one has really asked whether the governor bothered to use registered mail to verify receipt of the documents.)
According to an Oct. 28, 1991, Time Magazine report, SEC spokesman John Heine said, "as far as I know, nobody ever found the 'lost' filing." And, strangely, Bush refused comment to Time regarding either the incident or his involvement with Harken.
The governor also did not reveal the blatant conflicts of interest involved, since the chairman of the SEC was Richard Breedon, former lawyer with Houston firm Baker and Botts and deputy counsel to Bush's father when he was vice president. Breedon received his SEC appointment after the elder Bush became president.
The SEC investigation of George W. was led by general counsel James R. Doty who, according to a UPI report, mysteriously neglected to interview any of the Harken directors. Moreover, Doty had previously served as George W. Bush's personal lawyer in the deal involving his Texas Rangers purchase. So, in the end, the younger Bush was cleared of insider trade wrongdoing by his personal attorney and by his father's vice-presidential counsel, a virtual impossibility for the average U.S. citizen.
That the mainstream media has refused to question Bush regarding what voters might consider a mockery of the criminal investigative process is a story in and of itself -- especially considering it concerns how a possible future president might enforce U.S. laws if he had also broken those statutes.
Consider that Americans who currently hold stocks or mutual funds would never -- by virtually no stretch of the imagination -- be able to obtain access to corporate insider information that could turn a million dollars profit. But reporters following Bush have not broached the subject during the campaign.
Most reports involving Bush's insider oil stock trades refer only to his highly controversial June 22, 1990, million dollar trade made six weeks before Gulf War hostilities broke out in Kuwait -- a trade which was reported eight months later. However, SEC documents between 1986 and 1993 show that Bush acquired 212,152 shares of Harken stock on Nov. 1, 1986, at the time he merged his Spectrum 7 company with Harken. But the future governor did not report the transaction until April 7, 1987 -- more than five months later.
When Bush filed late on April 7,1987, SEC filings show he had purchased another 80,000 shares on March 10, 1987. But strangely, two weeks later, an April 22 filing noted that the 80,000-share purchase was backdated to Dec. 10, 1986. When questioned by the media, Bush's attorney said it was the same 80,000 shares but he could not explain the discrepancy regarding the purchase dates or why Bush even reported the trade two times.
Another SEC filing, this from June 6, 1989, showed that Bush purchased another 25,000 shares of Harken but again waited more than four months to report the transaction.
The Houston Post, recognizing Bush's late SEC filings, noted that he "took eight months to notify the government of his sale of stock in a company on whose board he served" and "also missed the filing deadline for reporting other insider trades involving Harken Energy."
Documents obtained by the Post showed "additional instances in which Bush ... ran afoul of the SEC rule requiring notification." And George W. described himself as a "small, insignificant" Harken stockholder; but news reports examining SEC documents identified Bush as the third largest non-institutional investor.
Bush in Bahrain
In October 1991, Time Magazine questioned why the tiny country of Bahrain would stake so much of its financial future on Harken Energy, which it labeled an "obscure, money-losing company with no refineries and no experience in offshore oil exploration." But the magazine also noted that oil-insiders speculated that Bahrain's rulers saw the arrangement as a way to gain influence with the Bush administration.
Mysteriously, primary reporters have also ignored what could point to a nexus regarding foreign policy and personal financial interests. Interestingly, the Village Voice in January 1991 reported that in 1990 the Bush administration signed an agreement with Bahrain that chose the small country as the permanent principal allied base in the Middle East, although it was some 200 miles away from the hostilities in Iraq and Kuwait.
The military-base deal came after Harken announced its Jan. 30, 1990, joint oil-drilling venture with Bahrain. So President Bush's key contributors and his son George W. were carrying on personal financial business with Bahrain at the same time decisions were being made regarding the possibility of a war in the Gulf.
And neither the president nor his adviser, George Jr., let the press know that Bahrain had been permitted to infuse $7.7 million in foreign cash to hire U.S. public relations firm Hill & Knowlton to lobby Congress and the American people; a stunning variety of opinion-forming devices and techniques were employed to inflame U.S. patriotic passions of war while personal financial interests were on the line.
On May 21, 1990, less than ten weeks before Saddam Hussein's troops invaded Kuwait to initiate the Middle East hostilities -- but just four weeks before Bush unloaded the bulk of his Harken stock -- a renegotiated corporate loan agreement featured an unusually high interest rate of 12 percent, less credit for acquisitions, a $750,000 debt fee and even requirements by some of Harken's major stockholders to guarantee $22.5 million in debt, according to Associated Press.
Did Bush know of impending losses when he sold his stock on June 22, 1990, since Federal securities law prohibits corporate insiders from trading "on the basis of" material information that is not publicly known? Bush denied the charge in spite of his positions on the Harken Energy board of directors, audit committee and stock restructuring panel. He added that he had no idea Harken was going to get an audit report full of red ink until weeks after he had made his stock sale.
But U.S. News & World Report said, "there is substantial evidence to suggest that Bush knew Harken was in dire straits. ... Harken's SEC filings make it clear that the company's directors knew radical steps were necessary." The magazine added that "one informed source says Harken's creditors had threatened to foreclose on the company if substantial debt payments were not made." Shortly thereafter, Bush cashed out of Harken.
The April 4, 1991,Wall Street Journal added that "Mr. Bush didn't return their phone calls seeking comment, and the Bush White House said 'it doesn't comment on the activities of the president's children.'"
According to the Washington Post, Harken's audit committee, of which Bush was a member, met with Mikel Faulkner and auditors from Arthur Andersen & Co., Harken's accountants, on June 11, 1990 -- just 11 days before Bush sold his stock on June 22. When asked for a copy of the June 11 minutes or permission to inspect them, the company declined to make the records available.
Bush's insider transaction yielding a profit of $848,560 -- some 250 percent profit on the stock's original value -- came a week prior to the end of a quarter in which the company lost $23 million. The quarterly report was released just a few days after Iraq invaded Kuwait and the Harken stock plummeted. However, as reported in a 1992 Mother Jones report, Bush attended a meeting regarding a revised stock offering in May 1990 working with Smith Barney's financial consultants concerning corporate restructuring.
In an Oct. 11, 1994, UPI report, Bush also claimed that he was not aware of Harken's poor financial condition when he sold the stock, but UPI said that the Dallas Morning News reported on the same day that a corporate official who served with Bush on the audit committee at Harken felt otherwise; Stuart Watson told the Dallas paper that he and Bush were constantly made aware of the company's finances. "You bet we were," said Watson. "We were both trying to keep that company on the straight and narrow."
On March 16, 1992, U.S. News echoed Watson's statement, reporting that "according to documents on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his position on the Harken (restructuring) committee gave Bush detailed knowledge of the company's deteriorating financial condition."
Firewalls Or Stonewalls?
Chuck McDonald, spokesman for Texas Gov. Ann Richards' campaign, said that SEC chief counsel in the Bush investigation -- James Doty, George W.'s former attorney -- never talked to George W., Watson or other Harken officials in its 1991 probe. He said, "Was this a real investigation, or was it a whitewash of an insider stock sale by the son of the sitting president?" UPI, which reported McDonald's statement, went on to note that "while Bush claims the SEC investigation absolved him of illegal insider trading, he has refused to release the investigation files."
Harken founder, Phil Kendrick, noted that the company's "annual reports and press releases get me totally befuddled. There's been so much promotion, manipulation and inside deal making." And even Harken chief executive Mikel Faulkner, an accountant, offered advice for those trying to decipher the financial statements: "Good luck. They're a mess."
Press accounts note that Bush requested a letter from the SEC, issued in October 1993, The letter, signed by SEC Associate Director Bruce A. Hiler, said that "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush and that, at this time, no enforcement is contemplated with respect to him." But the letter also stated that "it must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result."
On Oct. 18, 1993, the Bush administration SEC said it would not bring a case against George W. Bush.
To The Manner Born: A Princeling Legacy?
Gov. Bush speaks about his outstanding business record on the campaign stump; however, in 1989, U.S. News & World Report said, "Harken Energy lost over $12 million against revenues of $1 billion." Harken President Mikel Faulkner said that in addition to Bush's position as a director at $2,000 per meeting, stock options worth $131,250, 5 percent loans and 40 percent discounts on stock purchases, he was also a consultant to Harken for "investor relations and equity placement" at a salary of $80,000 per year from 1986 until 1989, when his salary jumped to $120,000.
The board was equally generous to Bush in 1990 as "the company lost another $40 million and shareholder equity plunged to $3 million -- down from more than $70 million in 1988." Faulkner declined to say what services George W. has performed as a consultant.
In March 1992, U.S. News said that "Despite repeated requests for interviews, George W. declined to discuss Harken or the reason for his stock sale, saying through an assistant that he 'does not want to read about himself.'" But some might ask whether American voters have a right to know whether a possible president would strictly enforce federal statutes or appoint lenient attorneys with suspect ethical standards leading to fixed politically sensitive investigations.
Moreover, should Bush -- a director of the corporation -- be accountable when huge losses are reported over a period of time, especially as a presidential candidate purporting to have an outstanding entrepreneurial business record at every presidential campaign stop? The answers have real implications regarding presidential character, morality and personal ethics.
Author and commentator Kevin Phillips offered a perceptive look at the Texas governor in the February 2000 issue of Harpers magazine when he said, "We can fairly ask whether George W. Bush is anything more than another scion who has made a decent governor during a period of prosperity and easy growth, and whether the United States can afford nominees who are to presidential politics what legacies are to college fraternities."
Attorney General John Ashcroft Picks Arthur Andersen For FBI Review
Enron Probe Crosses Many Political Borders
The Securities and Exchange Commission didn't do a thorough review on Enron Corp.'s annual reports for at least three years
Federal Government and Congress To Lower Boom On Enron - Criminal, Fraud, Waste, Accounting Methods
It was discussed ad nauseum, but that doesn't stop your little conspiracy theories with all your "pretty" HTML.
Oh BTW, I guess you are proud of yourself since Leahy(D-VT) picked up your Ashcroft/Arthur Andersen smear.
You could have been honest enough to put the phrase "my title" in the brackets, to notify the reader, that the title of the thread is not the original title of the article.
I guess the concept of standards is lost on you.
FinCEN, a division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, investigates money laundering. Special agents and analysts from various law enforcement agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Customs Service, are assigned to work with the FinCEN staff. The federal review stems in part from court documents obtained through litigation by Bill White, a former real estate business associate of Bath. White contends the documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy. Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. In general, people required by law to be registered are those who represent a foreign entity seeking to influence governmental action or policy. An Annapolis graduate and former Navy fighter pilot, White, 46, claims that Bath and the judicial system, under the veil of national security, have blackballed him professionally and financially because he has refused to keep quiet about what he regards as a conspiracy to secretly funnel Saudi dollars to the United States. White became entangled in a series of lawsuits and countersuits with Bath, who for some six years has prevailed in the courts. White says the legal action has financially devasted him and Venturcorp Inc., the real estate development company in which he and Bath were partners.
FinCEN, a division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, investigates money laundering. Special agents and analysts from various law enforcement agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Customs Service, are assigned to work with the FinCEN staff.
The federal review stems in part from court documents obtained through litigation by Bill White, a former real estate business associate of Bath.
White contends the documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy.
Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice.
In general, people required by law to be registered are those who represent a foreign entity seeking to influence governmental action or policy.
An Annapolis graduate and former Navy fighter pilot, White, 46, claims that Bath and the judicial system, under the veil of national security, have blackballed him professionally and financially because he has refused to keep quiet about what he regards as a conspiracy to secretly funnel Saudi dollars to the United States.
White became entangled in a series of lawsuits and countersuits with Bath, who for some six years has prevailed in the courts. White says the legal action has financially devasted him and Venturcorp Inc., the real estate development company in which he and Bath were partners.
| In sworn depositions, Bath said he represented four prominent Saudis as a trustee and that he would use his name on their investments. In return, he said, he would receive a 5 percent interest in their deals.
Tax documents and personal financial records show that Bath personally had a 5 percent interest in Arbusto '79 Ltd., and Arbusto '80 Ltd., limited partnerships controlled by George W. Bush, President Bush's eldest son. Arbusto means bush in Spanish.
Bath invested $ 50,000 in the limited partnerships, according to the documents. There is no available evidence to show whether the money came from Saudi interests.
George W. Bush's company, Bush Exploration Co., general partner in the limited partnerships, went through several mergers, eventually evolving into Harken Energy Corp., a suburban Dallas-based company.
Bush, known informally as George Jr., is a shareholder and director of Harken, which has been granted lucrative offshore drilling rights off the coast of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. One of the top shareholders of Harken, a public company, is Saudi businessman Abdullah Taha Bakhsh.
Bush said that to his knowledge, Bath's investment was from personal funds, and no Saudi money was invested in Arbusto.
Bath, 55, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, declined to comment for the record. Spokesmen for FinCEN and the FBI also declined to comment.
According to a 1976 trust agreement, drawn shortly after Bush was appointed director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi Sheik Salem M. Binladen appointed Bath as his business representative in Houston. Binladen, along with his brothers, owns Binladen Brothers Construction, one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East.
According to White, Bath told him that he had assisted the CIA in a liaison role with Saudi Arabia since 1976. Bath has previously denied having worked for the CIA.
In a sworn deposition, Bath said he was the sole director of Skyway Aircraft Leasing Ltd., a company that a court document shows is owned by Khaled bin Mahfouz. Bin Mahfouz had been a major shareholder in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a banking empire that has been accused of money laundering and of using Mideast oil money to seek ties to political leaders in several countries. Mahfouz and his family own the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia.
In 1990, Bath bought the Express Auto Park garage at Hobby Airport for $ 8.4 million, which included a $ 1.4 million loan provided by Mahfouz, according to transaction documents. Bath received a 5 percent interest in the companies that own and operate Houston Gulf Airport after purchasing it on behalf of Binladen in 1977. After Binladen died in 1988, his interests in the airport were taken over by Mahfouz, according to court documents.
Photo: Bill White, a real estate developer, balances a stack of depositions which he plans to turn over to federal authorities. The documents suggest a Houston businessman has been illegally representing the Saudis in the United States; Larry Reese/Chronicle
That evidently didn't happen though. Instead, Stephens and Riady bought a bank in Hong Kong. Later Stephens would invite Riady to invest in a Little Rock, Arkansas bank called Worthen as well. In the meantime, Stephens found a new buyer for Lance's NGB stock. In December, 1977, Stephens introduced Lance to Agha Hasan Abedi (the founder of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International -BCCI). According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, they discussed the possibility that Abedi purchase the stock of Financial General Bankshares (later called First American Bankshares) held by Lance, Stephens and others and concocted a plan to take over Lance's stock of the National Bank of Georgia U.S. SEC v Lance et. al.). The SEC found out about the plan and sought a restraining order to prevent a foreign bank from taking over a U.S. bank. Years later it would be revealed that Abedi and accomplise Gaith Pharoan went right ahead anyway succeeding with the takeover in 1982 (Corporate Crime Reporter, July 22, 1991). Abedi used frontman Gaith Pharoan to act as his intermediary, taking over Lance's stake in the National Bank of Georgia for BCCI. In 1990, BCCI was convicted of money laundering for the Columbian Cocaine Cartels in Miami. In 1991, BCCI collapsed and millions of investors in 73 countries lost their life savings. (A Full Service Bank, Adams & Frantz, 1992). According to the Wall Street Journal, "BCCI represents the biggest bank robbery in history... (January 18, 1994)." And that BCCI was a "$10 billion or so" heist. (Wall Street Journal, October 28, 1994.)
On February 7, 1992, New York Post reporter, Mike McAlary reported that Jackson Stephens "brokered the 1970s deals in which BCCI officials secretly acquired control of two American banks... The banks -First American Bankshares and the National Bank of Georgia were used as a financial clearinghouse by a collection of [the] world's most dastardly crooks, drug dealers, dictators and spies....and yet Stephens' ties to principals in the scandal continue to this day....Lance and Stephens are reported to have made a fortune as a result of their involvement with BCCI."
Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, County af New York, stated on July 29, 1991 that "BCCI was operated as a corrupt, criminal organization, throughaut its entire nineteen-year history. It systematically falsified its records. It knowingly allowed itself to be sued to launder illegal income of drug sellers and other criminals and it paid bribes and kickbacks to other public officials (Evil Money, Encounters Along the Money Trail, Rachel Ehrenfeld, 1992)."
In October, 1992, the Senate Foreign Relations released an 800-page report on the BCCI collapse. They argued that BCCI activities represented an "international financial crime on a massive and global scale," and that the bank "systematically bribed world leaders and political figures throughout the world."
In his own defense, Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal that "neither I nor anyone at Stephens played any role in bringing BCCI to America nor did we play any role in persuading them to buy shares in Financial General. BCCI representatives were introduced to me as representing a third party client. We opened a brokerage account on behalf of these individuals. We were paid normal brokerage fees for our services. Our contact was brief and ordinary course (Wall Street Journal, November 18, 1992)."
In response to the concerns over Jackson Stephens' involvement in BCCI, the Ohio Attorney General noted in his 1993 report on WTI's ownership: "Stephens' name has been linked to securities violations that allegedly occurred when the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), a foreign bank dominated by Pakistani financier Agha Hasan Abedi, acquired stock and control over the Washington-based First American Bank. This is an error by the Ohio Attorney General. The bank, as noted, was actually called Financial General Bankshares.] Because Stephens no longer owns a part interest in WTI, his alleged involvement in the BCCI affair is not relevant to the reliability of the current owner" (page 37, footnote 4). But the Attorney General's investigation didn't look into the financing of Von Roll's incinera¢or by the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), which was connected to BCCI through joint ownership of Luxembourg based Banque de Credit et de Placement (Reuters, July 8, 1991; Financial Times, July 9, 1991).
Writing about Von Roll's current owner, the United Bank of Switzerland, and its relationship with BCCI, James Ring Adams notes, "You can spin threads from that web for as long as you like (American Spectator, October, 1992)." Spin threads, indeed! Documents filed in Florida by the Government of Panama indicate that General Manuel Noriega used BCCI during the 1980's to funnel money to UBS that he had apparently stolen from the Panamanian military (The Independent, U.K., August 14, 1991). By 1987, Noriega had become a thorn in the side of the U.S. administration and anyone (except Jessie Jackson) who could help get rid of Noriega was apparently just fine.
Once again, there was Jack Stephens. Gabriel Lev' is a Panamanian entrepreneur, and formerly Panama's ambassador to Washington, had Jackson Stephens as his banker. Joel McCleary was an American political consultant who had been the youngest treasurer of the Democratic National Party. McCleary was a protege of Hamilton Jordon, and a deputy assistant for political affairs to Jimmy Carter. McCleary went to Panama in 1983, when Jordan's friend Gabriel Lewis sought help in running the ruling party's presidential campaign. In the mid-1980s both Lewis and McCleary fell out of favor with Noriega, and both wanted Noriega ousted. When Lewis, in Panama, felt that his life was under threat by Noriega he called his "banker, Jackson T. Stephens, in Little Rock, Arkansas, who was desperate to get his friend and client to safety...Stephens phoned his former classmate at the Naval Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Crowe. Stephens asked Crowe to help get Lewis out of the jam. Crowe phoned the Southern Command, and within minutes General Woerner sent over a black-paneled truck with some plainclothes bodyguards to protect Lewis and help him escape Panama...(Divorcing the Dictator: America's bungled affair with Noriega, Frederick Kempe, 1990)."
"In September 1987 Lewis wanted to bring McCleary back into Panamanian affairs, this time with a brief to destroy his former employer.... Lewis had decided he could get rid of Noriega only with the military's help. McCleary had the contacts and knowledge he needed to pull it off. Again, Lewis's American banker, Jack Stephens, for whom McCleary had done work in the past, helped bring the two together..." They worked out of Washington DC. "By spring of 1988, American foreign policy makers all agreed Noriega had to go..." George Bush (and Elliot Abrams) wanted Noriega ousted. Noriega was strong and he was buying intelligence from CIA agents while he was on Bush's CIA payroll. In August 1988 Noriega said, "I've got Bush by the balls." According to Kempe, "the threat [was] that Noriega might reveal much of what he knew: he had many of the administration's secrets (Overthrowing the Dictator by Frederick Kempe)." He was finally ousted from power in 1989 when the U.S. invaded Panama. He was convicted of narcotics trafficking in 1992 and is serving a 40 year sentence in prison near Miami.
Friends in High Places: Stephens and George Bush
As described above, Jackson Stephens was close to Jimmy Carter and several people in his cabinet and coterie of political cronies. But Jack Stephens is also well known for playing both sides of the fence. In 1991, Jackson Stephens contributed $100,000 to the Republican Party for Bush's presidential campaign, and Stephens Inc. "kicked in another $100,000." Stephens wife was the Arkansas co-chairman of the Bush for President campaign. (Wall Street Journal, December 6, 1991.) He and his wife were hosts to the Inaugural party for President Bush in 1989. (New York Times, Ma, 8, 1992.) In addition, Stephens brokered the deal that allowed the Union Bank of Switzerland (as mentioned above, a BCCI-connected bank, that also financed and ultimately owns the WTI incinerator project) to rescue a Harken Energy project that George Bush Jr. (son of President Bush) was involved with in 1987. When Harken needed help, Stephens was there. A meeting in Little Rock was set up "between Harken officials and Jackson Stephens that produced an unusual rescue plan. Mr. Jack obtained a $25 million cash infusion for Harken from Union Bank of Switzerland, which rarely invested in small American companies (The American Spectator, October, 1992)."
Friends in High Places:Stephens and Bill Clinton
Jackson Stephens was a major donor to Bill Clinton's campaigns for Governor and raised at least $100,000 for Bill Clinton's first Presidential campaign (Seattle Times, November 6, 1993) while extending $2 million to the campaign through Stephens and Riady's Worthen bank (The American Spectator, October, 1992). He has been the major financier of Bill Clnton's political career. According to Peter Truell and Larry gurwin, "No group raised more money for the Clinton Presidential campaign" than the Stephens Group. "A study released in July found that employees of Stephens Inc. gave more money to Clinton than employees of all but two other firms in the entire country (False Profits. The Inside Story of BCCI, the World's Most Corrupt Financial Empire, by Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, 1992)." Rachel Ehrenfeld argues that "Bill Clinton had full knowledge of Stephen's involvement with BCCI when he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Stephens family for his campaign (Evil Money)."
This is where things get complex. Jackson Stephens, as noted above has been partners with an Indonesian Tycoon, Mochtar Riady*. His son, James Riady was a co-president of Worthen Bank (Federal News Service, July 17' 1997). In 1994, Stephens' family interests owned approximately 55% of Worthen bank's outstanding stocks (Worthen proxy, March 29, 1994). Worthern provided the Clinton campaign with a $2 million dollar financing deal that basically saved the Democratic National Party from a cash shortage in the early 1992 Presidential campaign (The Spectator, October 1992). The Riadys own a company called The Lippo Group*.
According to William Safire, Lippo's ties to Jack Stephens enabled them to receive sensitive trade secrets from out of the Clinton Administration through Lippo employee, John Huang*, who also worked in the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Clinton employee. The kicker was that Huang would go across the street from his Commerce office to use a Stephens Inc. business office as a "drop" to receive and send documents and make off the record phone calls. "At informative Thompson committee hearings last week, we learned that Huang, Lippo's man at Clinton Commerce, received a call on the average of twice a week from a secretary at the Stephens drop who was instructed not to leave her boss's name. Huang would then cross the street to pick up and send express packages and use the Stephens phone. We know that Huang spoke to former Lippo associates at least 237 times in his 14 months at his sensitive trade post. 'That number troubles me' said Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Is this really your idea of fun?
The Wall Street Journal
by Micah Morrison
As the lens of "Whitewater" pans from tight focus to the full panorama of Bill Clinton's Arkansas, no more intriguing Friend of Bill appears than Edwin David Edwards.
Not that there is any suggestion that Mr. Edwards played a role in the Whitewater land development or Madison Savings & Loan, or any evidence of anything illicit where the Little Rock investment adviser has been involved. But Mr. Edwards keeps popping up, both as one of the president's oldest friends and as a symbol of the Saudi Arabian links that loom surprisingly large on Razorback terrain.
Mr. Edwards has been a Friend of Bill since at least 1969, when he briefly shared an apartment in England with Mr. Clinton and Strobe Talbott, the current deputy secretary of state. He vacationed with the Clintons on the Riviera, according to "Off the Books, " by Robert Hutchison (William Morrow, 1986). Mr. Edwards was instrumental in the Saudi contribution for a Middle East studies center at the University of Arkansas announced just after the presidential election. He was on hand for the president's emotional departure from Little Rock for Washington (see the rendering of an Associated Press photo). On a visit to Little Rock the weekend before the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, the president spent a four hour dinner alone with Mr. Edwards.
A Mysterious Investor
Mr. Edwards and his brother Mark now run their own Little Rock investment placement firm, Edwards Brothers. While Mr. Edwards refused repeated requests for interviews for this article, his principal client appears to be a mysterious Jidda investor, Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, who at one time owned nearly 10% of Little Rock's Worthen Bank. Before leaving to form their own firm in 1990, both brothers worked for Stephens Inc., the powerhouse Arkansas investment firm that handled the brokerage when Middle Eastern front men for the Bank of Credit & Commerce International made an early attempt to buy First American Bank in Washington, D.C. While at Stephens, Mr. Edwards also played an important role in securing an offshore drilling contract in Bahrain for Harken Energy Corp., on whose board sat George W. Bush, presidential son and current governor of Texas.
If only as a matter of curiosity, David Edwards is a Friend of Bill worth a few moments of attention. The tales of the university donations and the Harken deal are particularly interesting.
Much of Mr. Edwards's tenure at Stephens was devoted to the investment firm's European and Middle East operations, though his precise role is murky.
In 1989, officials of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville approached Jackson Stephens, the billionaire head of Stephens Inc. and a university board member, for help in raising funds for international studies. Mr. Stephens referred them to his employee, Mr. Edwards, say university officials. Mr. Edwards quickly turned to his Saudi contacts, including Mr. Bakhsh. Two executives associated with the investment firm say Mr. Edwards brought the low-profile Saudi to Stephens in 1987.
Reports in this newspaper and the BCCI book "False Profits," by Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, say Mr. Bakhsh was a co-investor in Saudi Arabia with alleged BCCI front man Ghaith Pharaon. Khalid bin Mahfouz, another BCCI figure and head of the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, was Mr. Bakhsh's banker. University of Arkansas officials say Mr. Edwards sought to involve Mr. Bakhsh in a project to create a Middle East studies center at the school. In a letter to a university official, Mr. Edwards said he would bring the reclusive Saudi to Fayetteville to talk "about designing a simple mosque somewhere on campus."
In a written statement, Mr. Bakhsh's attorney, Paul Meyer of Rogers & Wells, noted that the Saudi financier "was not involved in any way in any of the matters or transactions that constituted the BCCI scandal." Mr. Meyer added that Mr. Bakhsh "was not a participant" in Mr. Edwards's funding effort for the University of Arkansas.
When the Edwards brothers departed for their own firm, they took the university project with them. But friction was increasing between David Edwards and the university. The globe-trotting investment adviser claimed several hundred thousand dollars in Saudi travel expenses, says a university official. Others at the school found Mr. Edwards's abrasive manner and pro-Arab bias inappropriate for an academic setting. In a letter to university officials written less than a month before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Mr. Edwards commented on rising tensions in the region and complained that "we are giving our money to the Israelis to do what we tell them not to do. "
Gov. Clinton, university officials say, was an enthusiastic supporter of the project, and Mr. Edwards worked closely with him--on at least one occasion conducting business from the Governor's Mansion, according to a document obtained by the Journal. But Gov. Clinton may have had some Saudi resources of his own. Mr. Clinton was a Georgetown University class-mate of Turki bin Feisal, the current head of Saudi intelligence.
Sources in Arkansas say Mr. Clinton's famous networking skills also put him in contact with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. University officials participated in a Clinton-Bandar meeting in the spring of 1991, when they and Mr. Mr. Edwards joined the governor in delivering a request for a major gift to the ambassador. According to a 1991 gubernatorial disclosure statement, Mr. Clinton and Prince Banal also were together on June 13, when they traveled from Aspen to Little Rock on a jet leased by the Saudis.
Despite such contacts, no progress in raising money was made until Gov. Clinton received the Democratic presidential nomination. One month later, Mr. Edwards handled an anonymous lead gift to the university of $3.5 million for a Middle East studies program. Individuals familiar with the gift say it came from the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce. According to the Cyprus-based Arab Press Service, the gift was approved by Saudi Arabia's King Fahd at the recommendation of Prince Turki.
Under Mr. Edwards's direction, and despite some objections from University of Arkansas officials, the unusual gift was transferred to a university account in the form of Treasury bonds. The resulting confusion was the last straw for university officials. They insisted that Mr. Edwards withdraw from the project. Curiously, documents obtained by the Journal indicate that extra bonds were delivered to the university, with a face value of $3.5 million promised and $3.9 million delivered. A financial administrator at the university says that "excess bonds were put in the account by a mistake in the electronic transfer" and were "returned. "
One month after President Clinton's inauguration, Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker announced that Prince Bandar had delivered a $20 million gift to the University of Arkansas.
A few years earlier, Mr. Edwards provided important help to a company linked by family ties to then Vice President George Bush. In 1987, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Bakhsh rode to the rescue of Harken Energy, a struggling Texas oil company that included George W. Bush on its board. Harken's web of Middle East connections was detailed in a 1991 Wall Street Journal report. Stephens officials, including Mr. Edwards, came up with an unusual arrangement to help cash-poor Harken: Union Bank of Switzerland would give the oil company a $25 million cash infusion in exchange for stock. UBS, the Journal noted, was not known as an investor in small U.S. companies and was a joint-venture partner with BCCI in a Geneva-based bank.
When UBS began to hit regulatory snags, it decided to unload its Harken stock Stephens brought in a new buyer: Mr. Bakhsh. The Saudi tycoon ended up with a l%o stake in Harken, and his American representative, Chicago businessman Talat Othman, wound up with a seat on Harken's board. By August 1990, Mr. Othman was attending White House meetings with President Bush to discuss Middle East policy. Mr. Meyer, who serves as attorney for Mr. Othman as well as Mr. Bakhsh, says the Chicago businessman was invited to the meetings only because of his "longstanding involvement in Arab-American affairs. "
In April 1989, the government of Bahrain was looking for an oil company to explore its offshore holdings. According to a 1990 article in Forbes, the Bahrainis turned to Houston oil consultant Michael Ameen, a former head of governmental relations for Aramco. Mr. Ameen, the Journal noted in it's 1991 report is another "BCCI notation in the Harken story." As a top Aramco official, Mr. Ameen "had close-up dealings for years with the Saudi royal family and it's advisors," including Kamal Adliam, a BCCI principal and former head of Saudi intelligence. Mr. Ameen also reportedly is close to Mr. Bakhsh.
Mr. Ameen and Harken officials did not respond to interview requests. But according to Forbes the Bahrainis called Mr. Ameen, looking for a small company that would give them full attention. Mr. Ameen said he didn't know of any. By coincidence, Mr. Ameen's friend David Edwards called 10 minutes later on an unrelated matter. Mr. Ameen mentioned his problem. Mr. Edwards mentioned Harken.
Mr. Ameen negotiated the Bahrain deal, earning a $100,000 consulting fee. George W. Bush says he opposed it. "I thought it was a bad idea, " Gov. Bush said recently, because of Harken's lack of expertise in overseas and offshore drilling. Gov. Bush added that he "had no idea that BCCI figured into" Harken's financial dealings.
In June 1990, Mr. Bush sold some 60% of his Harken stake for about $850,000, earning a handsome profit. In November 1993, he resigned from Harken's board. Four months later, his successor was named: Michael Ameen. Harken has yet to discover any oil off Bahrain.
Mr. Bakhsh appears to have been pleased with Stephens's investment strategies. From February 1989 through October 1990, he purchased more than one million shares in the Stephen's controlled Worthen Bank paying more than $10 million for 9.6% of the stock, according to Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure statements. Mr. Bakhsh's attorney says he no longer is a Worthen shareholder.
Mr. Bakhsh has a wide range of U.S. investments, concentrated mainly in apparel, energy, real estate and financial services. In November, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Bakhsh's First Commercial Financial Group, a commodities brokerage firm, was forced to shed its customer accounts after regulators raised concerns about capital shortfalls and customer complaints. Mr. Bakhsh owns First Commercial through Dearborn Financial Inc., an investment company run by Mr. Othman. Their attorney, Mr. Meyer, says that First Commercial was completing "the final phase of its long-term strategic restructuring plan" by transferring its customer accounts to other firms. Mr. Meyer says that Mr. Edwards was not involved in Dearborn and First Commercial.
Mr. Edwards, though, has long been familiar with complicated financial transactions. In "Off the Books," financial journalist Robert Hutchison details Mr. Edwards's central role in a Byzantine tale of international banking and currency trading, In 1975, Mr. Edwards, then a Citibank junior executive in Paris, accused a senior currency trader of taking kickbacks and raised questions about the offshore parking of foreign-currency transactions. In order to avoid European taxes, Mr. Edwards charged, Citibank was booking fake transactions through its Bahamas branch, concealing them through a series of coded telex messages and other methods.
A Long Investigation
The "Edwards Affair, " as it became known, lasted until 1983, entangling the SEC, Congress, and regulatory officials of six European countries. It concluded with the senior Paris trader cleared of the kickback charges and Citibank paying minor fines and back taxes in several countries. Following a long investigation, in 1982 the SEC declined to take steps against Citibank.
By that time, Mr. Edwards was long gone. In one of his first acts as head of Citibank's International Banking Group, Thomas Theobold fired Mr. Edwards in 1978, saying that Mr. Edwards was unable "to provide any substantive, factual corroboration of the allegations. " Mr. Edwards responded by going to the SEC and filing an ultimately unsuccessful $14 million wrongful dismissal suit.
Citibank officials are bitter about their eight-year wrestling match with Mr. Edwards and worry that he may now be serving as an unofficial adviser to the president. "We fired him for being a lousy trader and he got back at us, " says a former top Citibank official. "The next thing we hear, he's down in Arkansas. Wherever there's a smell rising from the river, Edwards seems to turn up.
IMHO yes. Bill scours the internet looking for old articles(changes their titles to suit his conspiracy du jour) and then links them all and sits back and basically yells, "conspiracy".
Smearing good people like Bush and Ashcroft is all in a days work for Bill, IMHO.
Mr. Ameen negotiated the Bahrain deal, earning a $100,000 consulting fee. George W. Bush says he opposed it. "I thought it was a bad idea, " Gov. Bush said recently, because of Harken's lack of expertise in overseas and offshore drilling. Gov. Bush added that he "had no idea that BCCI figured into" Harken's financial dealings
Shouldn't you have highlighted all the parts where Bush's name is mentioned.
Oops I forgot, that part doesn't fit into your conspiracy theory.
Whitewater was a scandal of a then sitting Governor of Arkansas(Clinton).
Bill's rants are innuendo about then private citizen GW Bush.
"Were going to go after all crime, and were going to make sure people get punished for the crime."
George W. Bush - Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University - Oct 11, 2000
"It is not possible to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed' while deliberately violating the law.."
John Ashcroft - Aug. 1, 1998 (Washington Post).
George H.W. Bush
Q. Mr. President, on the Christmas Eve pardons, does it give the appearance that Government officials are above the law?
The President. No, it should not give any such appearance. Nobody is above the law. I believe when people break the law, that's a bad thing. I've read some stupid comment to the contrary. And of course, I feel that way. But the Constitution is quite clear on the powers of the President. And sometimes a President has to make a very difficult call, and that's what I've done.
But I'm glad you asked it, because I've read some rather frivolous reporting that I don't care about the law. I pride myself on 25 or more years of public service, of serving honorably, decently, and with my integrity intact. And certainly I wouldn't feel that way if I had a lack of respect for the law. And I don't think there is one single thing in my career that could lead anybody to look at my record and make a statement of that nature. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to clear it up.
Thank you all.
[end of partial transcript]
Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that it has filed lawsuits against Bush Administration agencies for their "failure to provide documents" under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) concerning the bourgeoning Enron scandal.
The article contains much damning info about GW Bush that I have wrtitten and complained about many times. The Bush apologists will probably try to ignore this article too and sweep it under the rug-they are in denial.
They have trouble believing that the Repubs and Democrats have incestuous relationships with Saudi terrorists, Jackson Stephens, BCCI, BNL,Iraq that are treasonous and harmful to the national security of the US. Do they think world government will save them?
So you are ready to convict on the basis of an two year old "opinion" piece from World Net Daily(In which you changed the title).
You know Bill, there is something called the real world, and World Net Daily is not the know all, be all of the real world.
Oh BTW, you never answered the question about Leahy(D-VT) picking up your Ashcroft/ Arthur Andersen smear.
Even though the Justice Dept. picked Arthur Andersen for an audit of the FBI before the mess at Enron was known.
I didn't ignore it. I just found it interesting in what Bill decided to "highlight" with his "pretty" HTML.
It seems to me you have much more bias than Uncle Bill because you chose to ignore the damning paragraphs he did bold. Uncle Bill's paragraphs greatly outnumber and outweigh the one paragraph that you bolded. Are looking for a weak excuse to let GW off the hook? The Repubs and Democrats both are corruptly linked to all of this and you know it.
James Ring Adams
The American Spectator
November, 1992 Stephens and Bush
Even after the sharp contraction of Worthen Bank's ambitions, Jack Stephens and Stephens Inc. kept their foreign deals going. The one now gaining most notoriety put together Saudi money men, elements of the BCCI network, and George W. Bush, eldest son of the President. The deal, first reported by David Twersky of the Forward and then covered in some depth by the Wall Street Journal, provided financing for the Harken Energy Corp. of Houston. Eyebrows were raised when this small and untried company landed a "potentially lucrative" offshore drilling contract with the Persian Gulf princedom of Bahrain. Many saw it as no coincidence that George W. Bush, often called George, Jr., sat on the board of Harken with a consulting contract worth as much as $120,000 a year. But the fascinating details came in the financial history that put George Jr. in this position.
In the late 1970s, George Jr. tried to emulate his father's business success in the Oil Patch by setting up a series of drilling partnerships. Called Arbusto '78, Arbusto '79, and so forth, they attracted capital from, among others, a Houston aircraft broker and financial manager named James Bath, who according to a former associate had acted as liaison between Saudi businessmen and the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976, the year in which George Bush, the elder, served as director of central intelligence. Bath's associate also disclosed in the course of a bitter legal fight that Bath managed millions of dollars of Houston investments for Sheik Khalid bin Mahfouz, the most important commercial banker in Saudi Arabia and for a time one of the largest shareholders in BCCI. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau indicted Sheik bin Mahfouz this July for a "scheme to defraud" in connection with his investments in BCCI. George W. Bush has given conflicting statements about Bath's investment in Arbusto, finally admitting to the Wall Street Journal that he was aware that Bath represented Saudi investors.
The Arbusto partnerships were busts as money-makers, but the investors managed to recoup their stakes through several stock swaps that wound up giving them shares in Harken Energy. But Harken itself needed help, and George Jr. gave it a boost in finding new financing through Stephens Inc. George Jr. attended a meeting in Little Rock between Harken officials and Jackson Stephens that produced an unusual rescue plan. Mr. Jack obtained a $25 million cash infusion for Harken from Union Bank of Switzerland, which rarely invested in small American companies. (UBS, coincidentally, held the minority interest in the BCCI subsidiary in Geneva, the Banque de Commerce et de Placements, and you can spin threads from that web for as long as you like.) U.S. banking laws forced the Swiss bank to sell its holdings, and Stephens found another buyer.
The new man was a Saudi named Abdullah Taha Bakhsh. The Jeddah-based real estate mogul did business with some of the kingdom's most prominent private figures, such as former Oil Minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani and current Oil Minister Hisham Nazer. Although Bakhsh picked up 17.6 percent of Harken's shares, he delegated his role in the company to a Palestinian from Chicago named Talat Othman. As Twersky of the Forward first reported, Othman not only sat on Harken's board, he attended three White House meetings with President Bush as part of a small group of Arab-Americans close to former chief of staff John Sununu. The first meeting took place in August 1990, days after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and Othman has drawn stormy criticism from other American Palestinians for his staunch support of the American defense of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In spite of his absentee position in Harken, Abdullah Bakhsh continued his American investments. In October 1990 he revealed in an SEC filing that he had bought a 9.6 percent stake in Jack Stephens's Worthen Banking Corporation, the same percentage as the holding relinquished earlier by Mochtar Riady.
[End of Transcript]
Well excuse me, keeper of all knowledge, for my transgression.
Are they still in business? Especially after the David Brock fiasco.
Anyway again that article is all innuendo. You seem to thrive on that, IMHO.
Covert Action Quarterly
By Jack Colhoun
Issue No. 41, Summer, 1992
GEORGE JR.'S[George W.] BCCI CONNECTION
"This is an incredible deal, unbelievable for this small company," energy analyst Charles Strain told Forbes magazine, describing the oil production sharing agreement the Harken Energy Corporation signed in January 1990 with Bahrain.
Under the terms of the deal, Harken was given the exclusive right to explore for gas and oil off the shores of the Gulf island nation. If gas or oil were found in waters near two of the world's largest gas and oil fields, Harken would have exclusive marketing and transportation rights for the energy resources. Truly an "incredible deal" for a company that had never drilled an offshore well.
Strain failed to point out, however, the one fact that puts the Harken deal in focus: George Bush, Jr.[George W.], the eldest son of George and Barbara Bush of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, is a member of Harken's board of directors, a consultant, and a stockholder in the Texas-based company. In light of this connection, the deal makes more sense. The involvement of Junior-George Walker Bush's childhood nickname-with Harken is a walking conflict of interest. His relationship to President Bush, rather than any business acumen, made him a valuable asset for Harken, the Republican Party benefactors, Middle East oil sheikhs and covert operators who played a part in Harken's Bahrain deal.
In fact, Junior's track record as an oilman is pretty dismal. He began his career in Midland, Texas, in the mid-1970s when he founded Arbusto Energy, Inc. When oil prices dropped in the early 1980s, Arbusto fell upon hard times. Junior was only rescued from business failure when his company was purchased by Spectrum 7 Energy Corporation, a small oil firm owned by William DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds. As part of the September 1984 deal, Bush became Spectrum 7's president and was given a 13.6 percent share in the company's stock. Oil prices stayed low and within two years, Spectrum 7 was in trouble.
In the six months before Spectrum 7 was acquired by Harken in 1986, it had lost $400,000. In the buyout deal, George "Jr." and his partners were given more than $2 million worth of Harken stock for the 180-well operation. Made a director and hired as a "consultant" to Harken, Junior received another $600,000 of Harken stock, and has been paid between $42,000 and $120,000 a year since 1986.
Junior's value to Harken soon became apparent when the company needed an infusion of cash in the spring of 1987. Junior and other Harken officials met with Jackson Stephens, head of Stephens, Inc., a large investment bank in Little Rock, Arkansas (Stephens made a $100,000 contribution to the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980 and gave another $100,000 to the Bush dinner committee in 1990.)
In 1987, Stephens made arrangements with Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) to provide $25 million to Harken in return for a stock interest in Harken. As part of the Stephens-brokered deal, Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh, a Saudi real estate tycoon and financier, joined Harken's board as a major investor. *5 Stephens, UBS, and Bakhsh each have ties to the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
It was Stephens who suggested in the late 1970s that BCCI purchase what became First American Bankshares in Washington, D.C. BCCI later acquired First American's predecessor, Financial General Bankshares. At the time of the Harken investment, UBS was a joint-venture partner with BCCI in a bank in Geneva, Switzerland. Bakhsh has been an investment partner in Saudi Arabia with Gaith Pharoan, identified by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board as a "front man" for BCCI's secret acquisitions of U.S. banks.
Stephens, Inc. played a role in the Harken deal with Bahrain as well. Former Stephens bankers David and Mike Edwards contacted Michael Ameen, the former chief of Mobil Oil's Middle East operations, when Bahrain broke off 1989 talks with Amoco for a gas and oil exploration contract. The Edwardses recommended Harken for the job and urged Ameen to get in touch with Bahrain, which he did.
"In the midst of Harken's talks with Bahrain, Ameen- simultaneously working as a State Department consultant-briefed the incoming U.S. ambassador in Bahrain, Charles Hostler," the Wall Street Journal noted, adding that Hostler, a San Diego real estate investor, was a $100,000 contributor to the Republican Party. Hostler claimed he never discussed Harken with the Bahrainis.
Harken lacked sufficient financing to explore off the coast of Bahrain so it brought in Bass Enterprises Production Company of Fort Worth, Texas, as a partner. The Bass family contributed more than $200,000 to the Republican Party in the late 1980s and early 1990s. *9 On June 22, 1990, George Jr. sold two-thirds of his Harken stock for $848,560-a cool 200 percent profit. The move was well timed. One week after Junior sold his stock, Harken announced a $23.2 million loss in quarterly earnings and Harken stock dropped sharply, losing 60 percent of its value over the next six months. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops moved into Kuwait and 541,000 U.S. forces were deployed to the Gulf.
"There is substantial evidence to suggest that Bush knew Harken was in dire straits in the weeks before he sold the $848,560 of Harken stock," asserted U.S. News & World Report. The magazine noted Harken appointed Junior to a "fairness committee" to study possible economic restructuring of the company. Junior worked closely with financial advisers from Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Company, who concluded "only drastic action could save Harken."
George "Jr."[George W.] also violated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations which require "insider" stock deals to be reported promptly, in Bush's case by July 10, 1990. He didn't file the stock sale with the SEC until the first week of March 1991.
Meanwhile, a cloak-and-dagger aura surrounds Junior's business dealings. James Bath, a Texas entrepreneur who invested $50,000 in Arbusto Energy, may be a business cutout for the CIA. Bath also acted as an investment "adviser" to Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs, linked to the outlaw BCCI, which also has ties to the CIA.
Bill White, a former Bath partner, claims that Bath has "national security" connections. White, a United States Naval Academy graduate and former fighter pilot, charges that Bath developed a network of off-shore companies to camouflage the movement of money and aircraft between Texas and the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.
Alan Quasha, a Harken director and former chair of the company, is the son of attorney William Quasha, who defended figures in the Nugan Hand Bank scandal in Australia. Closed in 1980, Nugan Hand was not only tied to drug-money laundering and U.S. intelligence and mi- litary circles, but also to the CIA's covert backing for a "constitutional coup" in Australia that caused the fall of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
The Harken deal with Bahrain raises another troubling question: Did the Bahrainis and the BCCI-linked Saudi oil sheikhs use the production sharing agreement with Harken to curry favor with the Bush administration and influence U.S. policy in the Middle East? Talat Othman's sudden rise to prominence in Bush administration foreign policy circles is a case in point. Othman, who sits on the Harken board as Sheikh Bakhsh's representative, didn't have access to President Bush before Harken's Bahrain agreement. "But since August 1990, the Palestinian-born Chicago investor has attended three White House meetings with President Bush to discuss Middle East policy," the Wall Street Journal pointed out. "His name was added by the White House to a select list of 15 Arab-Americans chosen to meet with President Bush, [then White House Chief of Staff John] Sununu and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft in the White House two days after Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait."
PRESCOTT'S BIG ASIAN ADVENTURE
Prescott Bush, Jr., the president's older brother, also has a knack for nailing down "incredible deal[s]." Prescott took advantage of his brother's first presidential visit abroad in February 1989 to schedule a business trip to the same countries-China, Japan and South Korea.
Prescott arrived in Tokyo February 14, 1989, ten days before President Bush's stop in Japan, to drum up business for Prescott Bush Resources Ltd., a real estate and development consulting company. Prescott said he was dealing with four Japanese companies wanting to do business in the U.S.
From Japan, Prescott went to China, where he had a joint partnership with Akoi Corporation to develop an $18 million golf course and resort near Shanghai. Prescott had introduced the Tokyo-based Akoi to Chinese officials in 1988. With a 30 percent stake in the project, Prescott used his China connections to pave the way for capital-rich Akoi. Akoi had run into business obstacles in China because of lingering Chinese resentment over Japan's brutal occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s.
Some of Prescott's most controversial business deals have been with Asset Management International Financing & Settlement Ltd., a Wall Street investment firm which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since fall 1991. Prescott was hired by Asset Management, which paid him a $250,000 fee for consulting in its joint venture with China to set up its internal communications network. Asset Management enlisted Prescott's services soon after President Bush imposed economic sanctions in June 1989 in response to Beijing's brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrators in Tienanmen Square.
Under the sanctions, United States export licenses were suspended for $300 million worth of Hughes Aircraft satellites, a key component of Asset Management's joint venture with the Chinese government. The satellites would beam television programming to broadcasters in China and provide telecommunications links for the country's far-flung provinces. In November 1989, Congress passed additional sanctions specifically barring the export of U.S. satellites to China unless the president found the sale "in the national interest."
On December 19, 1989, President Bush lifted the sanctions that blocked the satellite deal, citing "the national interest." Two months earlier, the Bush administration had granted Hughes Aircraft "preliminary licenses" to exchange data with Chinese officials to ensure that the satellites met the technical specifications of the Long March rockets which would launch them into space.
Meanwhile, Prescott was hard at work in the summer of 1989 as middleman in the takeover of Asset Management by West Tsusho, a Tokyo-based investment firm linked to one of Japan's biggest mob syndicates. Prescott, as head of
Prescott Bush & Co., received a $250,000 "finder's fee" from West Tsusho when the deal was closed and was promised an annual retainer of $250,000 over the next three years as a "consultant." Asset Management, however, went bankrupt in March 1991. In May 1992, West Tsusho filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Prescott claiming that he reneged on his promise to protect the mob-linked firm's $5 million investment in Asset Management.
According to Japanese police, West Tsusho is controlled by the Inagawakai branch of the Yakuza, the Japanese equivalent of the Mafia crime syndicate. By the mid-1980s, the Yakuza were buying up real estate and investments in Japan and overseas to launder their ill-gotten profits from drug sales, prostitution, gambling and extortion. Yakuza's annual income is estimated at $10 billion.
Like George Jr.[George W.], Prescott combined business with secret operations. He offered his services to the covert operations of the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980, and later to the Reagan administration. A September 3, 1980, letter from Prescott to James Baker indicates Prescott was part of the Reagan-Bush campaign's secret surveillance of the Carter administration's efforts to obtain release of U.S. hostages held in Iran. Prior to inauguration, the Reagan-Bush campaign recruited retired military and intelligence officers to monitor activities of the CIA, the Defense Department, the National Security Council, the State Department, and the White House. This operation later became known as the "October Surprise."
"Herb Cohen-the guy that offered help on the Iranian hostage situation-called me yesterday afternoon," Prescott wrote in a letter designated "PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL." "Herb has a couple of reliable sources on the National Security Council, about whom the [Carter] administration does not know, who can keep him posted on developments."
Prescott continued, "He cannot come out now and say that Carter is going to do something on Iran in October because he said everything is a contingency plan that is loose and fluid from day to day.... Herb says, however, that if he and others in the administration who really care about the country and cannot stand to see Carter playing politics with the hostages, see Carter making a move to politicize the release of the hostages, he and they will come out at that time and expose him."
Prescott's covert associations continued while his younger brother was vice president. He appears to have aided the Reagan administration's clandestine support of the Nicaraguan Contras. In the 1980s, he served on the advisory board of Americares, the U.S.-based relief organization with ties to prominent right-wing Republicans and the intelligence community. Bush's other son, Marvin, also helped the family's pet charity and accompanied a flight of medical supplies to Nicaragua three days after Chamorro's inauguration. An undisclosed amount of the $680,000 in Americares aid to Honduras was delivered to Nicaraguan Miskito Indian guerrillas. Based in Honduras, they were aligned with the CIA-funded Contras, according to Roberto Ale- jos, a Guatemalan sugar and coffee grower who coordinated the Americares project in Honduras. In 1960, Alejos had permitted the CIA to use his plantations to train right-wing Cubans in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
In 1985 and 1986, after Congress cut off U.S. aid to the Contras, Americares donated more than $100,000 worth of newsprint to the pro-Contra newspaper La Prensa in Managua. Americares supplied $291,383 in food and medicine and $5,750 in cash to Mario Calero, New Orleans-based quartermaster and arms purchaser for the Contras, and brother of Contra leader Adolfo Calero. In this same period, groups associated with Lt. Col. Oliver North's off-the-shelf Contra arms network provided covert support for La Prensa.
Jeb: Liaison to Anti-Castro Right
George Herbert Walker Bush's second eldest son, John Ellis or Jeb, was also linked to clandestine schemes in support of the Contras. Soon after congressional prohibition in late 1984, Jeb helped put a right-wing Guatemalan politician, Dr. Mario Castejon, in touch with Oliver North. Jeb acted as the Reagan administration's unofficial link with the Contras and Nicaraguan exiles in Miami.
Jeb was contacted in February 1985 by a friend of Castejon, who gave him a letter from Castejon to be passed on to then Vice President Bush. In his letter Castejon, a pediatrician and later an unsuccessful National Conservative Party presidential candidate, requested a meeting with George Bush to discuss a proposed medical aid project for the Contras. Jeb forwarded the letter to his father. In a March 3, 1985, letter, Vice President Bush expressed interest in Castejon's proposal to create an international medical brigade.
"I might suggest, if you are willing, that you consider meeting with Lt. Colonel Oliver North of the President's National Security Council Staff at a time that would be convenient for you," Bush wrote. "My staff has been in contact with Lt. Col. North concerning your projects and I know that he would be most happy to see you. You may feel free to make arrangements to see Lt. Colonel North, if you wish, by corresponding directly with him at the White House or by contacting Philip Hughes of my staff."
Castejon later met with North in the White House, where he also saw President Ronald Reagan. When Castejon returned to Washington for a second visit, he was introduced to members of North's secret Contra support network, including retired Maj. Gen. John Sing- laub and Contra leader Adolfo Calero. Castejon also met with a group of doctors working with Rob Owen, North's liaison with the Contras.
"He [Castejon] was offering us a pipeline into Guatemala," said Henry Whaley, a former arms dealer who said he was asked by his intelligence community connections to help Castejon. Whaley was optimistic about opening a new shipping route to the Contras through Guatemala. "If you can move Band-Aids," he reportedly said, "you can move bullets."
With Castejon, Whaley prepared a proposal to the State Department for the purchase of medical supplies for the Contras from the Department's newly established Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office. The document included requests for mobile field hospitals and light aircraft to evacuate wounded Contra guerrillas. Congress approved $27 million in "humanitarian" aid to the Contras in 1985. The Castejon proposal was hand-delivered to TGS International Limited in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Whaley said he sent the report to TGS so it would be "quietly" forwarded to the CIA. TGS International is owned by Ted Shackley, who was CIA Associate Deputy Director of Operations when Bush Sr. headed the Agency in 1976-77.
Jeb had another Contra connection in his involvement with Miguel Recarey, Jr., a right-wing Cuban who headed the International Medical Centers (IMC) in Miami. In 1985 and 1986, Recarey and his associates gave more than $25,000 in contributions to political action committees controlled by then Vice President Bush. In 1986, Recarey hired Jeb, a real estate developer, to find a new headquarters for IMC. Jeb was paid a $75,000 fee, even though he never located a new building.
In September 1984, two months after IMC's $2,000 contribution to the Dade County Republican Party, which was headed by Jeb, the vice president's son contacted several top HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) officials on behalf of IMC. "Contrary to rumors, [Recarey] was a good community citizen and a good supporter of the Republican Party," one official of the HHC remembered Jeb telling him in late 1984. Jeb successfully sought an HHS waiver of a rule so that IMC could receive more than 50 percent of its income from Medicare.
Leon Weinstein, an HHS Medicare fraud inspector, worked on an audit of IMC in 1986; he has charged that IMC used Medicare funds to treat wounded Contras at its hospital. *31 The transaction was arranged by IMC official José Basulto, a right-wing Cuban trained by the CIA, who arranged for Contras to receive treatment in Miami. Basulto was praised for his commitment by Felix Rodriguez: "He has been active for a decade in supporting the Nicaraguan freedom fighters ever since the Sandinistas took power, and is constantly organizing Contra support among Miami's Cuban community. He has even been to Contra camps in Central America, helping to dispense humanitarian aid."
At the same time as Recarey was providing medical assistance to the Contras, he was embezzling Medicare funds. IMC, one of the largest health maintenance organizations in the United States, received $30 million a month for its Medicare patients, clearing $1 billion in federal monies from 1981 to 1987. While he headed IMC, Recarey's personal wealth jumped from $1 million to $100 million, U.S. investigators believe.
"IMC is the classic case of embezzlement of government funds," according to Robert Teich, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office on Labor Racketeering in Miami. Reich described IMC's skimming Medicare funds as a "bust-out" where money was "drained out the back door." A Florida state investigator concluded in a 1982 report that some federal funds IMC received "are being put in banks outside the country."
Recarey's links to the Mafia also raised eyebrows in Washington. "As far back as the 1960s, he had ties with reputed racketeers who had operated out of pre-Castro Cuba and who later forged an anti-Castro alliance with the CIA," the Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal added that the late Santos Trafficante, Jr., the Mafia boss of Florida, "helped out when Recarey needed business financing." Trafficante, a major drug trafficker, joined a failed CIA effort to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro in the early 1960s.
Recarey's access to Republican circles was probably one reason he was able to rip-off U.S. tax dollars for so long. He hired former Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger, the public relations firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, which was close to the Reagan White House, and attorney John Sears, a former Reagan campaign manager, to look out for his interests in Washington. Recarey fled the United States in 1987 to avoid a federal indictment for racketeering and defrauding the U.S. government. The Bush administration has made no effort to extradite him from Venezuela where he is currently living.
JEB LINKED TO SMUGGLERS AND THIEVES
Jeb Bush has also been linked to Leonel Martinez, a Miami-based right-wing Cuban-American drug trafficker. Martinez, who was linked to Contra dissident Eden Pastora, was involved in efforts to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of cocaine into Miami in 1985-86. He was arrested in 1989 and later convicted for bringing 300 kilos of cocaine into the U.S. He also reportedly arranged for the delivery of two helicopters, arms, ammunition, and clothing to Pasto- ra's Costa Rica-based Contras.
Federal prosecutors in Miami have a photograph of Jeb and Martinez shaking hands but won't release the photo to the public. Whether Jeb was aware of Martinez's drug trafficking activities is not known, but it is known that Leonel and his wife Margarita made a $2,200 contribution to the Dade County Republican Party four months after Jeb became the chair of the local GOP.
It is also known that Martinez wrote $5,000 checks to then Vice President Bush's Fund for America's Future in both December 1985 and July 1986 and made a $2,000 contribution to the Bush for President campaign in October 1987.
Martinez's construction company gave $6,000 in October 1986 to Bob Martinez (no relation), the GOP candidate for governor in Florida; he was governor from 1987 to 1991. At that time, Vice President Bush was serving as head of the South Florida Drug Task Force and later as chair of the National Narcotics Interdiction System, both set up to stem the flow of drugs into the U.S. While Bush was drug czar, the volume of cocaine smuggled into the U.S. tripled.
President Bush later appointed Bob Martinez in 1991 head of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy- the drug czar to succeed the controversial William Bennett.
JEB GETS IN ON THE BCCI ACTION
In 1988, Jeb was mentioned in a deposition taken by a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), which was investigating drug money laundering operations in the U.S.
"I saw Jeb Bush two or three times over there with [Abdur] Sakhia," stated Aziz Rehman, a junior BCCI-Miami official in the 1980s. "This was all part of the bank's trying to cultivate public officials and prominent individuals." Rehman said BCCI's practice was to "bribe" government officials in the United States.
"Jeb Bush, V.P. George Bush's son," Sakhia noted in a 1986 BCCI document, was a "name to be remembered."
Most of Rehman's testimony focused on his role in BCCI-Miami's money laundering operation. Rehman said it was his job, in the mid-1980s, to chauffeur and entertain BCCI-Miami's big clients when they came to the city from the Caribbean and Latin America. Rehman described how he deposited large amounts of cash for these clients, ranging from $100,000 to $2 million, in other Miami banks at which BCCI-Miami had accounts. To disguise the money trail, BCCI transferred the cash electronically from Miami to BCCI banks in Panama and the Grand Cayman Islands.
Jeb's name also shows up in a September 1987 BCCI document written by Amjad Awan, then a senior BCCI-Miami official. The memorandum planned a BCCI breakfast meeting with a senior level delegation from the People's Republic of China and high Florida state government officials, including Secretary of Commerce Jeb Bush. Among the Chinese delegation was Ge Zhong Xue, Deputy Division Chief of the Ministry of Public Security, a top police official.
Meanwhile, Jeb and his business partner Armando Codina profited handsomely when the Bush administration bailed out Broward Federal Savings and Loan in Sunrise, Florida, which went belly up in 1988. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) absorbed $285 million in bad loans, including a $4.6 million loan by the Bush-Codina partnership. According to the deal struck by federal regulators, the Bush-Codina partnership wrote a check for $505,000 to the FDIC, and the government paid off the remaining $4.1 million of the loan for an office building on which Jeb and Codina defaulted. As a result of the bailout, the Bush-Codina partnership retained possession of its office building at 1390 Brickell Avenue in Miami's posh financial district.
Currently, Jeb is involved in a number of joint ventures with Codina, a Miami real estate developer who is also a leader of the right-wing Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). The Brickell Avenue office building is owned by IntrAmerica Investments. Jeb was listed in business documents in 1985 and in 1986 as the president of IntrAmerica Investments, and the building is managed by one of Jeb's real estate companies. Codina owns 80 percent of the building, while Jeb owns the remaining 20 percent.
Jeb has acted as the Reagan and Bush administration's liaison with the politically influential Cuban exile community in South Florida. Jorge Mas Canosa, president of CANF, succinctly described Jeb's role as the ultra-right Cuban-American community's liaison with the White House: "He is one of us."
Jeb Asks Dad To Free Terrorist
As a link to that powerful and wealthy South Florida community, Jeb has been a tireless supporter of some of the most reactionary Cuban-American political causes -from promoting CANF projects like Radio and TV Marti & acute;, to lobbying for the release of anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch from a Miami jail. TV propaganda broadcasts into Cuba, considered by legal experts a violation of the International Telecommunications Convention, are fully subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
Anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch was paroled in 1990 after Jeb lobbied the Bush administration for his release from prison in Miami. Bosch had been jailed in 1988 for jumping bail on a 1968 conviction for shooting a bazooka at a Polish freighter in the Miami harbor. He is better known as the mastermind of the explosion of a Cuban commercial airliner over Barbados on October 5, 1976, in which 73 passengers were killed. A U.S. District Court judge revealed in 1988 that secret U.S. documents concluded Bosch was a leader of the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), which was responsible for more than 50 anti-Castro bombings in Cuba and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.
The Cuban government filed an order for his extradi- ction in May 1992.
"Tell Him...The Vice President's Son" Called
"There was no conflict of interest," third Bush son Neil told reporters after the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) in Washington issued a notice of intent in January 1990 to hold a hearing on the failure of Silverado Banking Savings and Loan. Neil had been a member of Silverado's board of directors from 1985 to 1988. *45 Federal regulators shut down Silverado shortly after George Bush was elected president in 1988. The federal bailout cost U.S. taxpayers $1 billion.
Neil was responding to charges made in an OTS report that he had "breached his fiduciary duty" to Silverado by engaging in unethical business deals while a board member of the Denver savings and loan. The report documented that Neil personally profited from questionable Silverado loans to his business partners, Ken Good and Bill Walters. Good and Walters later defaulted on $132 million in loans to Silverado, leaving the taxpayers to pick up the tab.
The OTS report alleged that Neil failed to disclose his business connections to Good and Walters when he voted to approve a $900,000 line of credit to Good International, Inc. Neil got Silverado to write a letter of recommendation to authorities in Argentina, where Good International, in partnership with Neil's JNB Exploration Company, was exploring for gas and oil. Good also gave the President's third son a $100,000 loan to invest in the commodities market, which Bush was never required to repay.
Neil failed to inform Silverado that Walters had contributed $150,000 to the initial capitalization of JNB Exploration, or that Walters' Cherry Creek National Bank in Denver extended a $1.5 million line of credit to JNB Exploration. Neil put up a paltry $100 in start-up funds in 1983 when he founded JNB Exploration, but over the next five years was paid $550,000 in salary drawn from the Cherry Creek National Bank line of credit.
Neil brought few business skills to his job at JNB Exploration but he was adept at cashing in on his family name. "Tell him Neil Bush called," Neil once told the secretary of a wealthy Denver oil entrepreneur. "You know, the vice president's son."
"Neil knew people because of his name," acknowledged Evans Nash, one of Neil's partners at JNB Exploration. "He's the one that got us going. He's the one that made it happen for us."
When Neil left JNB Exploration in 1989, the company had yet to discover a profitable gas or oil well.
Neil: The Sensitive One
Neil's business partners also included shady characters with ties to the world of covert operations. In 1985, Good received an $86 million loan from the Dallas Western Savings Association, which was tied to Robert Corson, a Texas developer and reputed CIA operative, and Herman Beebe, Sr., a convicted Mafia associate of Louisiana mob boss Carlos Marcello.
Neil profited from the Western Savings loan to Good, because the loan helped Good buy Gulfstream Land and Development, a Florida real estate company. Good made Neil a board member of one of Gulfstream's subsidiaries in 1988. Bush was paid $100,000 a year to attend occasional Gulfstream board meetings before it went out of business in 1990.
Investigative reporter Pete Brewton identified Corson as a CIA operative in a long Houston Post series on CIA links to organized crime and failed savings and loans. "One former CIA operative told the Post that Corson frequently acted as `a mule' for the agency, meaning he would carry large sums of money from country to country," Brewton wrote.
Corson's Vision Banc Savings in Kingsville, Texas, loaned about $20 million to Mike Atkinson, a Corson associate, for a Florida land deal put together by Lawrence Freeman. Freeman, who laundered money for Santos Trafficante, Jr., was also tied to veteran CIA operative Paul Helliwell. In the Bahamas, Helliwell set up Castle Bank and Trust Ltd., which was the CIA's primary financial front in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 1960s and 1970s. Castle laundered funds for the Agency's covert operations against Cuba.
Walters had ties to Richard Rossmiller, a Beebe associate. In the mid-1970s, Walters was a part-owner with Rossmiller, of Peoples State Bank in Marshall, Texas, at the same time as Rossmiller was doing business with Beebe.
Wayne Reeder, another Beebe associate, a big borrower from Silverado, defaulted on a $14 million loan. Reeder was involved in an unsuccessful arms deal with the Contras. Reeder accompanied his partner, John Nichols, in 1981 to a weapons demonstration attended by Contra leaders Eden Pastora and Raul Arana, both of whom were interested in buying military equipment from Nichols.
"Among the equipment were night vision goggles ... and light machine guns," according to the book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans. "Nichols ... had a plan in the early 1980s to build a munitions plant on the Cabezon Indian Reservation near Palm Springs, California, in partnership with Wackenhut, the Florida security firm. [But] the plan fell through."
There was another Silverado-Contra connection, however, that didn't fall through. E. Trine Starnes, Jr., the third largest Silverado borrower, was a major donor to the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL), directed by Carl "Spitz" Channell, which was a part of Oliver North's Contra funding and arms support network. A NEPL document, "Top 25 Contributors as of October 3, 1986," showed Starnes contributed $30,000 to NEPL's Central America Freedom Program. Starnes closed a deal with Silverado on September 30, 1986, for three business loans totaling $77.5 million, on which Starnes later defaulted.
The Central America Freedom Program was a propaganda effort in conjunction with the Reagan administration's campaign in 1986 to win congressional support for resuming arms aid to the Contras. When the administration wooed potential NEPL donors, Starnes was invited to a January 30, 1986, White House briefing, which included Reagan, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Congress resumed U.S. arms aid to the Contras in mid-1986.
In a final ironic Silverado-Contra connection, NEPL banked at the Palmer National Bank in Washington, a bank with ties to Vice President Bush and Herman Beebe. Palmer National was also linked to North's Contra arms network.
Palmer National was established in 1983 by Stefan Halper and Harvey McClean, Jr., two former aides in Bush's unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1980. Halper, who had links to the intelligence community, became deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the Reagan administration. McClean was a Beebe associate. Beebe supplied the majority of the capitalization for the start-up of Palmer National.
"Palmer National lent money to individuals and organizations that were involved in covert aid to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels," Brewton wrote in the Houston Post. "Money was channeled through Palmer National to a Swiss bank account used by . . . North to provide military assistance to the Contras."
George Herbert Walker Bush is the first former CIA director to serve as president. The implications for U.S. politics of Bush's move from CIA headquarters to the White House are profound and chilling, but seldom the subject of mainstream political discussion. The corruption of the Bush family, however, is a good introduction.
The Bushes' shadowy business partners come straight out of the world in which the CIA thrives-the netherworld of secret wars and covert operators, drug runners, mafiosi and crooked entrepreneurs out to make a fast buck. What Bush family members lack in business acumen, they make up for by cashing in on their blood ties to the former Director of Central Intelligence who became president. In return for throwing business their way, the Bushes give their partners political access, legitimacy, and perhaps protection. The big loser in the deal is the democratic process.
[END OF ARTICLE]
By Kevin Freking
January 18, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Exclusive parties and receptions are planned for the biggest donors to the presidential inaugural, but officials at Stephens Inc. don't plan to be among the revelers, even though the Little Rock investment company gave the maximum allowable, $100,000, to help underwrite the celebration.
Warren Stephens, the company's president and chief executive officer, is "not aware of all that's being done, because he's not coming to any of it," Stephens spokesman Frank Thomas said.
Nor is anybody else with the company planning to attend, but Thomas will go to some smaller events specifically tied to Arkansas, such as the Arkansas State Society ball tonight and a reception Arkansas' U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson is having before the swearing-in Saturday.
Thomas said Stephens Inc. made its inaugural donation because Warren Stephens "agrees philosophically with George W. Bush's positions. He hopes the new president will work to reduce taxes to keep the economy strong, as well as support free trade and NAFTA."
Stephens Group gave another $215,000 to the Republican Party during the 1999-2000 election cycle, Federal Election Commission records show.
The exclusive events for top inaugural donors include a candlelight dinner tonight with those who have been nominated to serve in the president-elect's Cabinet. Guests will take home crystal candleholders bearing the inaugural seal. On Friday, a smaller reception with the president-elect is scheduled at the Library of Congress.
America Online, Archer-Daniels-Midland, Dow Chemical, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Major League Baseball were among the $100,000 contributors. PepsiCo Chairman Roger Enrico gave $100,000 in the name of PepsiCo and $100,000 in the name of FritoLay, a subsidiary, successfully one-upping the $100,000 given by Barclay T. Resler, who is in charge of government relations for Coca-Cola.
Some groups, such as Common Cause, a Washington organization that focuses on campaign-finance reform, have been critical of the way this year's private inaugural events are being underwritten.
"The initial list of donors to the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirms our worst fears about the potential for the inauguration to become yet another opportunity for wealthy corporate honchos to be able to purchase face time with the next president and vice president," said Scott Harshbarger, president of Common Cause.
"This kind of fund raising shows that the very low standards set by the outgoing administration have become institutionalized and that President-elect Bush is taking a pass on a valuable opportunity to change the way business is done in Washington."
The inaugural committee's goal is $30 million, which will pay for such events as the "Concert Celebrating America's Youth" and "Laura Bush Celebrates America's Authors." The goal is based on what was raised for prior inaugurals, said Michele Stember, a spokesman for the committee.
Stember said Bush will spend some extra time with the biggest donors but many of them are longtime friends of his.
Stephens Inc. was the only Arkansas company listed among the big donors, and other Arkansas connections to the inauguration are few.
H. Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Inc., was among the 36 business executives invited to meet with Bush in Austin earlier this month.
And Lee Colwell, director of the University of Arkansas' Criminal Justice Institute and the National Center for Rural Law Enforcement, is among the advisers to the transition team.
Colwell, a former associate director of the FBI, said Wednesday that he's among 15 to 20 people advising on law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The group has not met, but, individually, members have been asked to review matters that need to be addressed by the attorney general, as well as issues the president may need to know about.
An example Colwell offered was whether there should be a "terrorism czar," somebody at the Department of Justice whose sole responsibility would be to assess the threat of terrorism and the country's competency to respond.
[End of Transcript]
More leftist innuendo from a magazine(Covert Action Quarterly) which proudly proclaims "Mumia Abu-Jamal" a cop killer on death row as one of it's writer.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist and activist on death row in Pennsylvania. His status as a unjustly convicted political prisoner has attracted worldwide attention. This article was written on August 25, 1998.
Selected Bibliography: Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience (Plough Pub House, 1997) Live from Death Row (Avon Books, 1996)
Ramsey Clark, is also a writer for Covert Action.
Bill you are getting desperate when you spam articles from this communist rag, IMHO.
That's why you didn't leave a link.
Oh my God, they were talking about a "terroism czar" before 9/11. Ok that is proof positive that 9/11 was a conspiracy./sarcasm
I guess it wouldn't dent your tin foil that a "terrorism czar" has been talked about for years before 9/11.
Oh no that would get in the way of your conspiracy.
You are every bit as bad as the Dems are; if not more so. Every nasty, implied, assumed, how much dirt can you throw before it sticks article , that you can possibly find, you'll post. Why don't you just send them ALL to the DNC, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, the N.Y. Times, the Washington Post,DU, and Hitlery ? That should make it IMPOSSIBLE for any GOPer to EVER win an election for the next 20 ; at least. It doesn't matter to you, IF any of this is anything more than hyperbolic supposition, and GOD knows, that a COMMUNIST Nicaragua is something that YOU desire.
Do you honestly believe that the FFs were 100 % " CLEAN " ? Do you REALLY believe that it is a RECENT phenomina, that the well to do / well connected / elected or nominated to any positions of power get some business positions ?
Throw everyone , who has EVER been in power / holds an elected position today ( and I do mean EVERYONE ! ) , in jail, and throw the key away. Then Al Sharpton can be crowned king, and REALLY give you something to complain about ; since that is the ONLY thing that pleases you.
Your rantings just make you look jealous, spiteful, and a tad cracked . Your ideal fringe candidate will NEVER become president, and neither will your idea of what this country was / should be like, ever be realized.
George W. Bush's Dubious Friends
"Texas governor George W. Bush's campaign to become the Republican candidate in this November's presidential ballot could shortly run into turbulence because of new information about his past. Indeed, among the figures Bush dealt with indirectly when he ran oil companies was Saudi banker Khaled Bin Mahfouz who, Intelligence Newsletter has learned, is currently under house arrest in a hospital in Taef at the behest of the American authorities. The latter are looking into contributions Mahfouz is said to have made to welfare associations close to terrorist Ussama Bin Laden.
...In 1987 Mahfouz's representative in the U.S., Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, acquired an 11.5% stake in a company in which the Bush was a shareholder, director and adviser, Harken Energy.
...An American banker named Jacksen Stephens who was to also be deeply involved in the BCCI affair moved in 1987 to invest $ 25 million in Harken. The transaction took place in Geneva with the money was paid through a joint venture set up between the Union des Banques Suisses and the Geneva branch of the BCCI; the financial accord was signed by both Stephens and Bakksh. Other links between Bush and Mahfouz can be found through investments in the Carlyle Group, an American investment firm managed by a board on which former president George Bush himself sat. The younger Bush personally held shares in one of the components of the Carlyle group, the Caterair company, between 1990-94. And Carlyle today ranks as a leading contributor to Bush's electoral campaign. On Carlyle's advisory board figures the name of Sami Baarma, director of the Pakistani financial establishment Prime Commercial Bank that is based in Lahore and owned by Mafouz."
[End of partial transcript]
The Wall Street Journal - Page A1
Thomas Petzinger Jr., Peter Truell
and Jill Abramson
December 6, 1991
Two years ago, Talat Othman didn't have the president's ear. But since August 1990, the Palestinian-born Chicago investor has attended three White House meetings with President Bush to discuss Middle East policy.
Mr. Othman's political access coincides with the remarkable ascendance of a little Texas oil company on whose board he serves alongside George W. Bush, the president's oldest son. That company, Harken Energy Corp. -- though it had never drilled a single well overseas or in water -- recently won the rights to drill potentially lucrative offshore wildcat wells in a contract bestowed by the government of Bahrain.
When the Harken deal was announced in January 1990, it attracted only perfunctory notice. More recently, a number of publications have written about the case, raising questions about whether Bahrain might have chosen Harken in part because a presidential son sat on its board.
Now, George W. Bush is emerging as a principal adviser to his father. He was a lead player in the campaign to oust White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, and was cited by his father yesterday as among those who will play "key roles in the reelection effort." Thus, the issues surrounding the Harken deal take on fresh importance.
The White House says there is nothing questionable in this story of petroleum, politics and the presidential son. "There is no conflict of interest, or even the appearance of conflict, in these business arrangements," says spokesman Marlin Fitzwater. The matters had been reviewed and disclosed, he said, adding, "They are legitimate business undertakings."
Indeed, an investigation by this paper has not revealed evidence of wrongdoing or influence-peddling by George W. Bush or anyone else connected to Harken. Yet what does emerge is a complex pattern of personal and financial relationships behind Harken's sudden good fortune in the Middle East, raising the question of whether Bahrainis or others in the Middle East may have hoped to ingratiate themselves with the White House. Even more intriguing, there are numerous links among Harken, Bahrain and individuals close to the discredited Bank of Credit & Commerce International, a banking empire that used Mideast oil money to seek ties to political leaders in several countries.
The mosaic of BCCI connections surrounding Harken Energy may prove nothing more than how ubiquitous the rogue bank's ties were. But the number of BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken -- all since George W. Bush came on board -- likewise raises the question of whether they mask an effort to cozy up to a presi- dential son.
Among those relationships:
-- Sheik Khalifah bin-Salman al-Khalifah, the prime minister of Bahrain and a brother of the country's ruling emir, is identified on an October 1990 shareholder list as one of the 45 investors who own parent company BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A. The emir played a role in approving the Harken transaction.
-- Sheik Abdullah Bakhsh, a major Harken shareholder represented by Mr. Othman on the company's board, has been a co-investor in Saudi Arabia with alleged BCCI front man Ghaith Pharaon, and used Khalid bin-Mahfouz, until recently a principal BCCI shareholder, as his banker.
-- Harken's investment bankers helped BCCI gain its foothold in U.S. banking, and they also arranged for a Swiss bank to help rescue Harken from its debt woes in 1987 -- a Swiss bank that was at the time a joint-venture partner with BCCI.
-- Harken's consultant on the Bahrain deal counts Kamal Adham, a principal owner of BCCI, as a close friend and has had a long acquaintance with BCCI's Mr. Pharaon.
As a candidate and later in the White House, President Bush vowed to avoid even the appearance of any conflicts of interest in his administration. He instructed Secretary of State James Baker to cable all U.S. embassies to warn against the appearance of preferential treatment for Bush family investments overseas. The president has also moved to distance himself from the BCCI scandal, denouncing a former aide who recently went to work as a lawyer for BCCI's Mr. Adham, and who resigned in the ensuing furor.
George W. Bush, a managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, declined to be interviewed. He did provide brief responses to written questions through an intermediary. Asked whether his involvement with the Dallas energy company lent it added credibility in the Arab world, he said to "ask the Bahrainis."
Every individual involved denies any influence peddling. Mr. Othman, George W. Bush and people involved in setting up the White House meetings on the Mideast say the president's son had nothing to do with Mr. Othman's being included among the Arab-Americans invited. "Not by any stretch of the imagination," Mr. Othman says.
And Harken investor Mr. Bakhsh rejects any suggestion that his links, past and present, to Messrs. Pharaon and binMahfouz mean he is in any way associated with BCCI. He says through his New York lawyer that he bought Harken stock (in 1987) because it looked like a good investment in a depressed industry.
Harken officials say they resent any suggestion their company somehow has ties to BCCI. They dismiss the circumstantial links to it as purely random and say they were shocked to learn of them. And, in fact, BCCI has proved adept at insinuating itself into centers of influence without the knowledge of those occupying the seats of power.
Harken says it won the Bahrain drilling deal purely on merit, through painstaking geological research and deft negotiating. It says Mr. Bush played no role in clinching the deal.
As for Bahrain, it says it chose tiny Harken partly because it didn't believe a large company would be so fully committed to the project. Other Harken officials, while denying that the Bush name played any specific role, acknowledge that having him on their board is an asset. "You'd have to be an idiot not to say it's impressive," says Alan Quasha, former Harken chairman and its second-largest shareholder. (The largest, with 24.5%, is a Harvard University investment fund.)
Mr. Bush's affiliation with Harken came at the end of a failed attempt to follow in the footsteps of his father. Like him, George W. launched a career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, and like his father he chose a Spanish name for it: Arbusto Energy Inc. "Arbusto" is Spanish for " bush"; the president's company was Zapata Petroleum Co.
Among George W.'s investors was James R. Bath, a Houston aircraft broker who had a flourishing aviation business with sheiks of the Saudi peninsula. Mr. Bath owned a piece of a Houston bank in which Mr. Pharaon, the BCCI front man, had been a controlling shareholder.
Mr. Bath also invested money in the U.S. for Mr. bin-Mahfouz, the Saudi banker who would go on to become a leading shareholder in BCCI. According to Mr. Bath's personal financial statements, produced in unrelated litigation, Mr. Bath invested $50,000 with George W. Bush, becoming a 5% partner in Arbusto. Mr. Bush says he was aware Mr. Bath was representing Saudi investors but that at the time "had never heard of BCCI."
In the oil-patch depression of the mid1980s, Mr. Bush's company merged with another concern, becoming Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. But its fortunes didn't improve. "We lost a lot of money in the oil business," says Philip Uzielli, a director of Spectrum 7 and friend of Mr. Bush . "We had a lot of dry wells. . . . Things were terrible. It was dreadful."
Finding a buyer wasn't easy. But in September 1986, Harken Energy swapped some of its own shares for the shares of Spectrum 7. Mr. Bush's cut was worth roughly $600,000. "Getting Harken stock at that point turned out to be very good," Mr. Uzielli recalls. In addition to becoming a Harken stockholder, Mr. Bush became a director and a consultant at $120,000 a year, later reduced to $50,000. (In mid-1990, Mr. Bush sold two-thirds of his Harken holdings at a significant profit; his remaining stake could still be worth millions if Harken hits a gusher in Bahrain.)
What looked like a dull investment soon looked brighter. The company needed a cash infusion, and Mr. Bush, whose consulting contract listed "equity placements" among his duties, was there when Harken officials got together with Little Rock's Stephens Inc., one of the largest U.S. investment banks outside of Wall Street.
He needed no introduction to Jackson Stephens, having known him since the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign. Mr. Stephens's wife, Mary Anne, would soon become Arkansas co-chairman of the Bush for President campaign, while Mr. Stephens would donate $100,000 to Team 100, a GOP group that collected money for the campaign. Stephens Inc. kicked in another $100,000 to the Bush dinner committee last May.
But on that spring day in Little Rock, cash for Harken was the topic. Ultimately, Stephens put a rescue plan in motion: Union Bank of Switzerland, which ordinarily didn't invest in small U.S. firms, would make an exception, giving Harken $25 million in exchange for a stock interest.
At the time, UBS was a joint-venture partner with BCCI in a Geneva-based bank. And although Harken officials, including Messrs. Bush and Quasha, say they were unaware of it, Mr. Stephens was also well acquainted with BCCI. In fact, he suggested to BCCI in the late 1970s that it try to take over what is now Washington, D.C.'s biggest bank company, First American Bankshares Inc., according to court records produced in connection with the takeover attempt. Mr. Stephens was among the defendants in that suit, aimed at preventing a First American takeover by BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi, BCCI principal Kamal Adham and Abdullah Darwaish, chief financier for the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Mr. Stephens declined to be interviewed for this article.
The Harken financing Stephens was arranging hit a last-minute snag. To comply with U.S. banking laws, the deal assumed a complex new structure, and UBS decided to unload its shares to a third party at the first chance, according to Mr. Quasha. UBS says it planned to sell the shares all along. In any case, Stephens brought in a new patron: a real-estate magnate from Jedda, Saudi Arabia, who bought most of Union Bank's Harken shares. He was Abdullah Bakhsh.
Mr. Bakhsh for several years was chairman of Saudi Finance Co., a Luxembourg-based holding company for Swiss and French financial enterprises. He sold his interest in 1983. Who bought it isn't clear, but corporation records in Geneva show that by 1989 it had come partly under the control of the Gokal family, Pakistani shipping magnates who were early BCCI shareholders and who, according to BCCI's auditors, have failed to service more than $700 million of borrowings from BCCI.
Mr. Bakhsh has had business dealings with some of the most prominent people in Saudi Arabia, including, according to a friend, former Saudi oil minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani and current oil minister Hisham Nazer. One of his co-investors in the U.S. says he believes the sheik has also invested with members of the Saudi royal family.
But Mr. Bush, Mr. Quasha and other Harken officials evidently knew little about their new partner. Mr. Quasha did a background check and says he found that Mr. Bakhsh was a very private person of great integrity who had already received regulatory approval for other U.S. investments.
Mr. Bakhsh, though listed as Harken's third largest stockholder with a 17.6% stake, has met with company officials on only a few occasions, and George W. Bush says through his intermediary he has never spoken to him. Instead, Harken officials deal with him through Mr. Othman, who sits on the Harken board.
In the wake of the company's new Persian Gulf backing came a much bigger Gulf breakthrough. It might be called the Dream Deal.
Bahrain, a small emirate with strong ties to Saudi Arabia, hadn't made a significant new oil find since 1932. But high-tech seismic surveys detailed a large geological formation under the sea, between two of the greatest oil and gas fields on the planet. The company picked to drill exploratory wells would have to put up a lot of cash -- $12.7 million just for the first of several wells. But it would get a lucrative share of any oil found. The payoff could total in the billions.
Amoco, vitally interested, started negotiating with the Bahrainis in 1987. (Three other companies also entered into talks, according to Bahrain, which didn't identify them.) As negotiations advanced, Amoco grew hopeful of a contract. Then, in January 1990, it heard startling news: The contract had just been awarded to tiny Harken. "We were disappointed," says Patricia Wright, an Amoco spokesman. "We thought we might get this one."
Why did Harken get it instead? "It was not some sort of fix," says Mr. Quasha, the former Harken chairman.
Harken says George W. Bush didn't play any role in clinching the deal, and even expressed doubts that Harken had the financial resources for it. Mr. Quasha also points out that all the connections in the world won't help Harken find oil in Bahrain, which the Bahrainis know as well as anyone. "I don't see where they gain from dealing with a relative of George Bush's who futzes up."
Bahrain says the Bush connection couldn't have been a factor. "We were not aware when Harken was chosen of any prominent American or Arab who was connected with the company," says Bahrain's oil minister, Yousuf Shirawi.
However, Monte Swetnam, Harken's exploration chief, says, "I'm sure they were aware" of Mr. Bush's involvement with the company. "I talked about our exploration advisory board and our board of directors. George's name comes up twice. It wasn't a secret."
So, then, why Harken?
Harken officials, in extensive interviews, maintain that Bahrain wanted a small company that would devote full attention to the project, a point Bahraini Oil Minister Shirawi confirms. To find one, he turned to a longtime friend, Michael Ameen, a Houston oil consultant who had worked in the Mideast for Mobil Corp. and Arabian American Oil Co. (Aramco).
Mr. Ameen represents yet another BCCI notation in the Harken story. As the head of government relations for Aramco, he says he had close-up dealings for years with the Saudi royal family and its advisers, including Mr. Adham, the BCCI principal, who is also a former Saudi intelligence chief. Mr. Ameen was close enough to the Pharaon family that he recalls meeting a young Ghaith on his graduation from college.
Mr. Ameen had been a friend for 25 years of Mr. Bakhsh, the large Harken shareholder. But he says that when faced with having to recommend to Bahrain one small oil company out of the hundreds to choose from, he chose Harken out of pure serendipity. Within 10 minutes of discussing the matter by phone with Bahrain's oil minister, Mr. Ameen says, he got a call from one of Harken's investment bankers at Stephens in Little Rock.
Before long, Mr. Ameen was leading Harken delegations to London and Bahrain, where, according to the company, Harken officials displayed keen knowledge of the region's geology and disarmed the Bahrainis with their open negotiating style.
In the midst of Harken's talks with Bahrain, Mr. Ameen -- simultaneously working as a State Department consultant -- briefed the incoming U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, Charles Hostler. Mr. Ameen ultimately received a fee of about $100,000 from Harken.
Ambassador Hostler, a San Diego real-estate investor who is a $100,000 Republican contributor, says through an embassy official that he never discussed the Harken deal with authorities in Bahrain. Harken officials say they met with him only after their contract was secured. Mr. Hostler does say that he has long known, and from time to time given financial counsel to, Mohammad Hammoud, who was described in recent Senate testimony as a "flexible front for BCCI." Mr. Hammoud is also listed as a significant BCCI shareholder.
Once negotiated, the Harken contract was reviewed and approved by several Bahraini officials, including, lastly, Sheik Isa bin-Sulman al-Khalifah, the ruling emir. His younger brother, Prime Minister Sheik Khalifah bin-Sulman al-Khalifah, appears in BCCI records as a shareholder, along with Mr. Adham, several members of Persian Gulf royalty, and others.
"His highness the emir has no personal opinions" about Harken or anyone else associated with the transaction, says Mr. Shirawi, the oil minister. "There is a possibility he's a shareholder, but we never heard of it," a Bahrain embassy spokesman says. If the prime minister does have BCCI holdings, the spokesman points out, the shareholding isn't large.
The drilling deal went through even though Harken admitted it couldn't begin to finance the exploration on its own. Bahrain agreed to let Harken bring in a partner. It was the hottest ticket in town; two dozen oil companies expressed interest in coming into the deal. Harken chose Bass Enterprises Production Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, a company controlled the politically active billionaire Bass family. Members of the Bass family have contributed more than $200,000 to the GOP in recent years. A Bass company official declines comment.
At the signing ceremony in January 1990, a celebratory delegation from Harken traveled to Bahrain, including Mr. Quasha, Mr. Othman and another Harken executive. The first well broke ground last month and is scheduled for completion by the end of January.
Within six months Mr. Othman saw his political status, as well as his company's position, enhanced. His name was added by the White House to a select list of 15 Arab-Americans chosen to meet with President Bush, Mr. Sununu and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft in the White House two days after Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Mr. Othman and others involved in setting up the White House meeting say his three invitations are explained by his membership in the Arab-American Council on the Middle East, a group of business and political leaders who are close to ousted Chief of Staff Sununu. "Talat was recommended to us by many people in the Arab-American community," says one administration official. Mr. Othman was most recently present at a White House gathering last month of President Bush and Arab-American leaders.
"George W. Bush has nothing to do with it," Mr. Othman says of the White House meetings. "This is an invitation from the White House."
--- Who's Who in the Harken Deal
ABDULLAH TAHA BAKHSH -- A Saudi investor who controls about 17% of HArken's stock, he has extensive business interests in Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
GEORGE W. BUSH -- The President's eldest son, he is a director, consultant and shareholder in Harken Energy. Runs the Texas Rangers baseball club and may play a role in father's re-election campaign.
TALAT OTHMAN -- Middle Eastern-born director and shareholder in Harken, he helps manage investments for Sheik Abdullah Bakhsh, a major Harken shareholder, and is a member of the Arab-American Council on the Middle East.
ALAN QUASHA -- A Harvard-educated lawyer and corporate restructuring expert, he controls about 20% of Harken's stock and served as chairman from 1983 until last February.
MONTE SWETNAM -- Harken's exploration chief, he led the team that developed the winning drilling program for Bahrain.
MICHAEL AMEEN -- A Houston oil consultant, he forged close associations with wealthy Arabs while serving as top Mideast official for Mobil Corp. and Aramco. Received a $100,000 fee from Harken.
JACKSON STEPHENS -- Arkansas-based investor whose Stephens Inc. played a critical role in fund raising for Harken. Former Stephens staffers also represented Harken in Bahrain deal, earning a $100,000 fee.
CHARLES HOSTLER -- The U.S. ambassador, he met with Harken officials after they clinched the drilling contract.
YOUSUF SHIRAWI -- Minister of industry and development for the island nation, he has responsibility for Bahrain's oil industry.
KHALIFAH BIN-SULMAN AL-KHALIFAH -- Prime minister of Bahrain and younger brother to the island's ruling emir, he is a BCCI shareholder.
SAUDI MONEY MEN
KAMAL ADHAM -- A shareholder in BCCI and former Saudi intelligence chief, he is also listed as a borrower from BCCI.
KHALID BIN-MAHFOUZ -- A bank owner in Saudi Arabia who previously held a significant stake in BCCI.
GHAITH PHARAON -- Alleged BCCI front man in secret dealings in U.S. and elsewhere.
Copyright (c) 1991, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.
[End of Transcript]
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U.S. and China Sign Infrastructure Deals
Agence France Presse, 31 March 1999 The U.S. and China signed seven infrastructure accords in late March. The accords include a deal signed between the China National Petroleum Corp with Enron International China Pipeline Ltd for the joint development of a 765-km natural gas pipeline to carry gas from Sichuan province to Hubei province. It will be the first onshore pipeline in China built in cooperation with a foreign company. Other accords include projects for monitoring air quality in more than 20 Chinese cities, supplying fertilizer to China's National Chemical Import and Export Corp, generating power, financing for clean energy, housing initiatives and participating in a scheme to halt floods.
He represented Bush in SEC case over sale of Harken Energy stock
The Dallas Morning News
By G. Robert Hillman
July 21, 2001
WASHINGTON President Bush has chosen as ambassador to Saudi Arabia a Dallas attorney who represented him against insider trading allegations arising from his sale of stock in Harken Energy Co. 11 years ago.
Robert Jordan, a founding partner of the Dallas law office of Baker Botts, represented Mr. Bush during a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the allegations involving Mr. Bush's lucrative sale of stock in Harken, where he had been a director.
The SEC found no merit in the charges. Critics have noted that Mr. Bush's father was president during the investigation and a longtime supporter, Richard Breeden, was the commission's chairman.
Mr. Bush has said he needed to sell his 212,000 shares of Harken stock for nearly $850,000, which later plummeted in value, in order to finance his purchase of an interest in the Texas Rangers baseball club.
He invested about $600,000 in the team and earned nearly $15 million when it was sold in 1998.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Jordan would represent the United States in the capital of one of its key allies in the Middle East.
"He understands the important relationship that exists between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and I am confident he will be an outstanding ambassador," Mr. Bush said in announcing his selection.
In a brief telephone interview Friday, Mr. Jordan said he was honored by the appointment, but could not discuss it in any detail until he is confirmed.
In the Senate, Allison Dobson, a spokeswoman for Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., whose foreign relations subcommittee will screen Mr. Jordan's nomination, said a staff review had just begun and any hearing was weeks off.
At the White House, deputy press secretary Scott McClellan said Mr. Bush has confidence in Mr. Jordan and foresaw no problems with his Senate confirmation.
"The president believes Mr. Jordan will do an outstanding job representing the United States," Mr. McClellan said.
Early in the new Bush administration, there have been reports of strained relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia over the continued violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Just last week, it was reported that former President George Bush had called Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to reassure him that his son was determined to "do the right thing" in the region.
Mr. Jordan, 55, is a director of the State Bar of Texas and a past president of the Dallas Bar Association.
He is a Navy veteran and a graduate of Duke University. He also has a master's degree in government and international relations from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma.
A corporate lawyer familiar with the courtroom, Mr. Jordan has handled a wide range of domestic and international cases. His Houston-based firm, Baker Botts, deals heavily with energy and technology issues and has a branch office in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
James Baker, who was secretary of state in the administration of Mr. Bush's father and treasury secretary under President Ronald Reagan, also is a partner in the firm.
Although the White House has announced Mr. Jordan's selection, his nomination has not been formally submitted to the Senate. Mr. Jordan said he is still working on the voluminous personal and financial disclosures that are required for such appointments.
Saudi Money Aiding Terrorist bin Laden
By Jack Kelley
October 28, 1999
WASHINGTON - More than a year after the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa, prominent businessmen in Saudi Arabia continue to transfer tens of millions of dollars to bank accounts linked to indicted terrorist Osama bin Laden, senior U.S. intelligence officials told USA TODAY.
The money transfers, which began more than five years ago, have been used to finance several terrorist acts by bin Laden, including the attempted assassination in 1995 of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia, the officials said.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected to raise the issue with Prince Sultan, the Saudi defense minister, during his visit to Washington next week. Saudi Arabia, the main U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has pledged to fight terrorism.
According to a Saudi government audit acquired by U.S. intelligence, five of Saudi Arabia's top businessmen ordered the National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom's largest, to transfer personal funds, along with $3 million diverted from a Saudi pension fund, to New York and London banks.
The money was deposited into the accounts of Islamic charities, including Islamic Relief and Blessed Relief, that serve as fronts for bin Laden.
The businessmen, who are worth more than $5 billion, are paying bin Laden "protection money" to stave off attacks on their businesses in Saudi Arabia, intelligence officials said. Bin Laden, whose family runs the largest Saudi construction firm, has called for the overthrow of the Saudi government.
The money transfers were discovered in April after the royal family ordered an audit of NCB and its founder and former chairman, Khalid bin Mahfouz, U.S. officials say. Mahfouz is now under "house arrest" at a military hospital in the Saudi city of Taif, intelligence officials said.
His successor, Mohammad Hussein Al-Amoudi, also heads the Capitol Trust Bank in New York and London, which U.S. and British officials are investigating for allegedly transferring money to bin Laden. Amoudi's Washington lawyer, Vernon Jordan, could not be reached for comment.
Mahfouz's son, Abdul Rahman Mahfouz, is on the board of Blessed Relief in Sudan. Suspects in the Mubarak attack are linked to the charity.
Bin Laden faces U.S. criminal charges for allegedly masterminding the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. Bin Laden, who is in Afghanistan, denies the charges.
Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan declined to comment on the reports.
The White House Connection: Saudi `Agents' Close Bush Friends
By Maggie Mulvihill, Jonathan Wells and Jack Meyers
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
A powerful Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the White House has earned hefty fees representing controversial Saudi billionaires as well as a Texas-based Islamic charity fingered last week as a terrorist front.
The influential law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld has represented three wealthy Saudi businessmen - Khalid bin Mahfouz, Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and Salah Idris - who have been scrutinized by U.S. authorities for possible involvement in financing Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.
In addition, Akin, Gump currently represents the largest Islamic charity in the United States, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Richmond, Texas.
Holy Land's assets were frozen by the Treasury Department last week as government investigators probe its ties to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group blamed for suicide attacks against Israelis.
Partners at Akin, Gump include one of President Bush's closest Texas friends, James C. Langdon, and George R. Salem, a Bush fund-raiser who chaired his 2000 campaign's outreach to Arab-Americans.
Another longtime partner is Barnett A. ``Sandy'' Kress, the former Dallas School Board president who Bush appointed in January to work for the White House as an ``unpaid consultant'' on education reform.
In September, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas for Holy Land records around the same time terrorist investigators froze the assets of a North Texas Internet firm hired by Holy Land.
Holy Land shared office space with that firm, InfoCom Corp., which was raided by police on Sept. 5, just days before the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
Holy Land has denied any link to Hamas.
According to Akin, Gump, the firm represents Holy Land in a federal lawsuit filed against the charity and another suspected Hamas entity by the parents of a man allegedly murdered by Hamas operatives in the Middle East.
In a statement issued Friday, Akin, Gump said it decided last week to decline a request to represent Holy Land in its defense of terrorism-related charges made by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Akin, Gump, which maintains an affiliate office in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, is also a registered foreign agent for the kingdom. It was paid $77,328 in lobbying fees by the Saudis during the first six months of 2000, public records show.
In addition to the royal family, the firm's Saudi clients have included bin Mahfouz, who hired Akin, Gump when he was indicted in the BCCI banking scandal in the early 1990s. In 1999, the Saudi's placed bin Mahfouz under house arrest after reportedly discovering that the bank he controlled, National Commercial Bank in Saudi Aabia, funneled millions to charities believed to be serving as bin Laden fronts.
A bin Mahfouz business partner, Al-Amoudi, was also represented by Akin, Gump. When it was reported in 1999 that U.S. authorities were also investigating Al-Amoudi's Capitol Trust Bank, Akin, Gump released a statement on behalf of their client denying any connections to terrorism. One year earlier, the firm had co-sponsored an investment conference in Ethiopia with Al-Amoudi.
Akin, Gump partner and Bush fund-raiser Salem led the legal team that defended Idris, a banking protege of bin Mahfouz and the owner of El-Shifa, the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant destroyed by U.S. cruise missiles in August 1998.
The plant was targeted days after terrorists - allegedly on the orders of bin Laden - bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa. The U.S. Treasury Department also froze $24 million of Idris' assets, but Akin, Gump filed a lawsuit and the government later chose to release the money rather than go to court. Idris, who insists he has no connection whatsoever to bin Laden or terrorism, is now pursuing a second lawsuit with different attorneys seeking $50 million in damages from the United States.
Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan political watchdog group, said Akin, Gump's willingness to represent Saudi power-brokers probed for links to terrorism presents a unique ethical concern since partners at the firm are so close to the president.
The concern is more acute now, Lewis said, because Bush has faced stiff resistance from the kingdom in his repeated requests to freeze suspected terrorist bank accounts.
``The conduct of the Saudis is just unacceptable by international standards, especially if they are supposed to be one of our closest allies,'' Lewis said.
Speaking of Akin, Gump partner Kress' office in the White House, Lewis added: ``That's not appropriate and frankly it's potentially troublesome because there is a real possibility of a conflict of interest. Basically you have a partner for Akin, Gump . . . inside the hen house.''
But another longtime Washington political observer, Vincent Cannistraro, the former chief of counter-intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, said the political influence a firm like Akin, Gump has is precisely why clients like the Saudis hire them.
``These are cozy political relationships . . . If you have a problem in Washington, there are only a few firms to go to and Akin, Gump is one of them,'' Cannistraro said.
Cannistraro pointed out that Idris hired Akin, Gump during the Clinton presidency, when Clinton confidante Vernon Jordan was a partner at the firm. ``He hired them because Vernon Jordan had influence . . . that's a normal political exercise where you are buying influence,'' he said.
Akin, Gump is not the only politically wired Washington business cashing in on the Saudi connection.
Burson-Marsteller, a major D.C. public relations firm, registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent for the Saudi embassy within weeks of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
One of Burson-Marsteller's first public relations efforts for the Saudis was to run a large advertisement in the New York Times reading: ``We Stand with You, America.''
The Washington chairman for Burson-Marsteller, which also maintains an office in Saudi Arabia, is Craig Veith, who ran communications for the Republican Party in the 1996 elections.
Other GOP heavyweights who have held top positions at the PR giant include Sheila Tate, the campaign press secretary for the elder George Bush; Leslie Goodman, deputy director of communications for the 1992 Bush-Quayle campaign; Craig L. Fuller, chairman of the 1992 Republican National Convention and elder Bush's vice presidential chief-of-staff.
Senator Says Bin Laden Had Accounts in Bank Shut Down in Worldwide Fraud Scandal - BCCI
September 26, 2001
WASHINGTON --Investigators have learned that Osama bin Laden was among those with accounts in a bank shut down in 1991 in one of the worlds biggest banking scandals, Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International was closed after bank regulators around the globe linked it to fraud, theft, secret weapons deals, terrorist financing and drug-money laundering. Investigators didnt know it at the time, but it turns out bin Laden had accounts at BCCI, said Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who led an investigation into the Third World bank. The BCCI-bin Laden tie was first reported by MSNBC.com's Christopher Byron Tuesday.
WE HAVE LEARNED SINCE from law enforcement and intelligence that when we shut it down, we dealt him a very serious economic blow because of the size of those accounts and his dependency on that flow, Kerry said.
Saudi Arabian multimillionaire bin Laden and his al-Qaida network are the prime suspects in the Sept. 11 hijackings of four U.S. commercial jetliners and attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
U.S. officials are trying to trace the money behind bin Ladens network, leading to a renewed push by Kerry and other lawmakers for tougher money laundering laws.
Kerry commented on BCCIs link to bin Laden at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on money laundering legislation.
Arab terrorist Abu Nidal and Colombian cocaine cartels also were among the bank's 1.3 million customers. Depositors lost millions of dollars when authorities seized BCCI's assets. Arab terrorist Abu Nidal and Colombian cocaine cartels also were among the banks 1.3 million customers. Depositors lost millions of dollars when authorities seized BCCIs assets.
Also Bush has had strong legal ties to the Holy Land Foundation and InfoCom, companies raising money for Hamas, AlQaeda and hosting and paying for websites for Saudi terror businessmen,Iraq and for terrorists groups. The FBI has known about this since 1993 and only acted in November 2001 after first making a raid on InfoCom in Dallas five days before 9/11.
I have noticed that BlueDog has within the past two months confused the relationship of InfoCom and Holy LAnd Foundation and tried caliming it was Holy Land that was raided when in fact it was InfoCom taht was raided. BlueDog himself reoported the InfoCOm raid on FreeRepublic on 9/7/2001. I corrrected his reversal of who was rasided in replies on FR especiallly to Wallaby.
Be advised that BLueDog claimed last year in his earliest posts that he was trying to land and maintain a position in the Bush adminisntration It makes you wonder if some of this is the reason Bush ordered the FBI to back off investigating Saudi business connections in the US to Bin Laden a month before 9/11.
Here is an excerpt of an earlier article that you posted which identifies the earliest connections (although indirect at the time) between Bush and Mahfouz. Mahfouz has is connections with CLinton and BCCI it appears too. Clinton's Bert Lance James Ring Adams The American Spectator November, 1992 Stephens and Bush In the late 1970s, George Jr. tried to emulate his father's business success in the Oil Patch by setting up a series of drilling partnerships. Called Arbusto '78, Arbusto '79, and so forth, they attracted capital from, among others, a Houston aircraft broker and financial manager named James Bath, who according to a former associate had acted as liaison between Saudi businessmen and the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976, the year in which George Bush, the elder, served as director of central intelligence.
Bath's associate also disclosed in the course of a bitter legal fight that Bath managed millions of dollars of Houston investments for Sheik Khalid bin Mahfouz, the most important commercial banker in Saudi Arabia and for a time one of the largest shareholders in BCCI.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau indicted Sheik bin Mahfouz this July for a "scheme to defraud" in connection with his investments in BCCI. George W. Bush has given conflicting statements about Bath's investment in Arbusto, finally admitting to the Wall Street Journal that he was aware that Bath represented Saudi investors.
Note these same individual's names appear in the article Uncle Bill posted in reply #37 which describes their connection to GW Bush and his friends:
The White House Connection: Saudi `Agents' Close Bush Friends
By Maggie Mulvihill, Jonathan Wells and Jack Meyers
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
A powerful Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the White House has earned hefty fees representing controversial Saudi billionaires as well as a Texas-based Islamic charity fingered last week as a terrorist front.
The influential law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld has represented three wealthy Saudi businessmen - Khalid bin Mahfouz, Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi and Salah Idris - who have been scrutinized by U.S. authorities for possible involvement in financing Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network
And they're Circles within Circles. Just the names brought out in your above reference mat'l would make an interesting snapshot of the focal points and overlap of these top players.
As usual, the motivations are Oil/Energy, Drugs and the Laundering of Money derived. It's also clear that they've set themselves above all laws as necessary by key placement thru the political system of appointments to effect their cover.
The Wall Street Journal
by Micah Morrison
In reply #11, Uncle Bill posted the above article (thanks Uncle Bill) I have frequently referred to in my replies about GW Bush and the Saudis and Jackson Stephens. Inside the article is the following statement:
Mr. Clinton was a Georgetown University class-mate of Turki bin Feisal, the current head of Saudi intelligence.
Prince Turki is the man who called the head of CIA ME operations, Vincent Cannistraro, a few hours after the OKC bombing on April 19, 1995 and told Cannistraro that Sadam Hussein and Iraq was behind the OKC bombing. He told Cannistraro that Sadam had hired seven Pakistanis to help do the OKC bombing. The FBI altered and rewrote several FBI 302 interview reports to try to hide and cover up this fact in the months after the OKC bombing as reported in Stephen Jones book, Others Unknown.
There is strong evidence Pakistanis helped McVeigh do the OKC bombing and US News and World report reported top Pentagon officials told them McVeigh was an Iraqi agent with Iraq phone numbers and that the FBI had kept info on this from the Pentagon.
Clintons close friend Terry Lenzner and his company IGI (Larry Potts is now VP of IGI) tried to intervene and thwart the KFORTV investigation of the Iraqi suspect who helped McVeigh.
It is extremely likely that Clinton knew Iraq and Pakistan were involved in the OKC bombing at least in part because of what Cannistraro told the FBI and Clinton. This is especially true since it was Clintons roommate and close friend at Georgetown and head of Saudi intell, Turki Feisal, that told Cannistrato right after the OKC bombing the Iraqi were directly involved. It is for certain the FBI was ordered to cover up the Iraqi and Pakistani connection to the OKC bombing by Clinton. And the Pentagon officials described in the US News and World Report believe this also.
I strongly believe that AG Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller and President Bush know of the Iraqi involvement in the OKC bombing. BGW Bush, Mueller and Ashcroft are covering up the Iraqi involvement in the OKC bombing . So far they act like the victims in the OKC bombing are not as important as avoiding public pressure to do something about Iraq and to admit corruption in the FBI and DOJ and ties to Saudi and Hamas terrorist campaign contributors to the Bush administration via the Holy Land Foundation,InfoCom, Khalid Mahfouz, and AlAmoudi(same men contributed to Gore and Clinton and connected to bombing of USS Cole).
Also please see replies #38 and #39.
Gosh! And I suffered for nothing -- thinking Clinton was POTUS in '93!
In the mid-1970s, an obscure Saudi money man named Ghaith Pharaon began investing large sums in U.S. banks, first in Detroit and Houston, and then, in 1977, in the National Bank of Georgia, which he acquired from Jimmy Carters one-time director of the Office of Management and Budget, Bert Lance.
Only later was it learned that Pharaon was actually a front man for a Pakistani financier named Agha Hasan Abedi, who presided over an outfit bearing the name Bank For Credit & Commerce International. This institution, ostensibly based in Pakistan but with its main offices in London and New York, was in turn bankrolled by moneymen from Saudi Arabia. Among the fat cats were top members of the Saudi royal family and even the Croesus-rich head of Saudi Arabias intelligence service, Kamal Adham, a brother-in-law of King Faisal.
The bank whose false bookkeeping and impending collapse first came to public attention as a result of an expose I published in New York Magazine in June of 1991 turned out to be a colossal criminal enterprise that touched nearly every country on Earth. The bank was engaged in widespread, pandemic bribery of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. It laundered money on a global scale, intimidated witnesses and law enforcement authorities, engaged in extortion and blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and prostitution.
Its main means of operation? Secrecy the secrecy that came from acting through BCCI-controlled shell companies in every offshore banking center in the world, the exact same modus operandi employed by thousands upon thousands of crooked offshore banks to this very day.
BUSH UNKNOWINGLY TIED IN
Through its fronts and various other disguises, BCCI penetrated the top-most echelons of American business, co-opting and exploiting many of the most visible and influential public figures in America. They ranged from former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, to Robert Magness, the founder and chairman of the nations largest cable television company, TCI Inc. For his part, Magness wound up serving as the titular head of a shadowy commodities trading company, Capcom Inc., which laundered billions of dollars of offshore money through the commodities markets of Chicago.
For a period in the 1980s, the banks tentacles even touched George W. Bush. This occurred when Bush who at that point had not yet entered politics, but whose father was vice president in the Reagan administration sold a small and struggling oil company he had started to a Texas wildcatting outfitter named Harken Energy, which was not much bigger than Bushs outfit. Doing so set in motion a chain of events that wound up entangling Bush, briefly but awkwardly, in the affairs of not just BCCI but of the bin Laden family itself.
BIN LADEN CONNECTION
One of Bushs original partners in his oil company - which initially bore the name Arbusto Corp. had been a fellow named James Bath. Bath in turn had contacts in the Middle East and was actually named in a 1976 trust document as the Houston business representative for none other than Salem M. bin Laden, a half-brother of the infamous Osama bin Laden, who is accused of masterminding the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Several published reports from the early 1990s quote an associate of Baths named William White himself an Annapolis graduate and Naval fighter pilot as claiming that Bath was actually involved in a secret conspiracy to funnel Saudi money into the United States and that he has worked as a CIA liaison to Saudi Arabia since 1976 the year when Bushs father, George H. W. Bush, became head of the CIA. White is quoted as saying that Bath ran an aviation business and obtained several aircraft from the CIA. Bath was quoted as denying any involvement with the CIA. In 1988, Salem bin Laden was killed in Texas in a private-plane crash. There has been much conjecture but no established facts as to the reasons for, or circumstances of, the crash.
In any event, Houston-based Bath ran a Cayman Islands-based aviation business bearing the name Skyway Aircraft Leasing Ltd., which was actually owned, according to a court document, by a wealthy Saudi banker named Khalid bin Mahfouz. In 1977, Mahfouz who was reported by The Wall Street Journal in 1999 to be undergoing treatment for drug abuse joined up with the previously mentioned Saudi front man for BCCI, Ghaith Pharaon, and became an investor in a small Houston bank, Main Bank of Houston, in which Bath himself held a stake.
When Harken needed capital to expand, Bush by then a member of Harkens board helped the company obtain a $25 million infusion from the Union Bank of Switzerland, via an Arkansas investment banker named Jackson Stephens. Few people at the time had yet even heard of BCCI, but Bush would doubtless have been astonished to learn that he was being surrounded by people with ties of one sort or another to the biggest and most crime-infested bank in the history of world capitalism.
For starters, Jackson Stephens, head of the Little Rock investment firm that bears his name, would eventually be named as the promoter of a deal in which BCCI attempted, through various front men, to take over the largest bank in Washington D.C. Bush would also have been astonished to learn that the Persian Gulf patron of his oil patch pal, James Bath Mr. Khalid bin Mahfouz was himself an early and large investor in BCCI. Finally, he would doubtless have been surprised to learn that the bank that actually cut the $25 million check for Harken an outfit bearing the name Banque de Commerce et de Placements was in fact only half owned by Union Bank of Switzerland. The other half was owned by BCCI.
Those facts would certainly have eliminated much of Bushs presumed surprise when he subsequently learned that no sooner was the Harken financing completed than Union Bank of Switzerland sold its interest in Harken to a Saudi real estate developer named Abdullah Bakhsh, whom The Wall Street Journal has described as a sometime business associate of BCCI figures Ghaith Pharaon and Khalid bin Mahfouz.
As for Mahfouz, who was fined $212 million by the United States for his involvement in BCCI and barred from any further activities in the American banking system, he has now resurfaced - in connection with Osama bin Laden.
A March 2000 press report by the Paris-based Intelligence Newsletter said bin Mahfouz was being held under house arrest in Taif, Saudi Arabia, at the behest of U.S. authorities. The reason: Mahfouz was believed to have provided financial aid to a charitable front organization raising money for Osama bin Laden the Afghan-based terrorist who had already been linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1992 attack on U.S. Servicemen in Somalia, a 1995 bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. A top counter-intelligence source in Washington says Mahfouz is still under house arrest.
These are the types of people Washington now needs to root out of the nations and the worlds financial systems if it is to cut off the flow of money to the terrorists who have attacked America. But the tentacles not only now reach into just about every major money center bank in the country, they have even brushed up against the early business affairs of the very man who is now rallying America to the fight. In the end, getting the dirty money out of America may prove every bit as hard as pulling bin Laden from the mountains of Afghanistan.
[End of Partial Transcript]
Bush's name, however, was to help rescue him, just as it had attracted investors and helped revive his flagging fortunes throughout his years in the dusty plains city of Midland. A big Dallas-based firm, Harken Oil and Gas, was looking to buy up troubled oil companies. After finding Spectrum, Harken's executives saw a bonus in their target's CEO, despite his spotty track record.
By the end of September 1986, the deal was done. Harken assumed $3.1 million in debts and swapped $2.2 million of its stock for a company that was hemorrhaging money, though it had oil and gas reserves projected to produce $4 million in future net revenue. Harken, a firm that liked to attach itself to stars, had also acquired Bush, whom it used not as an operating manager but as a high-profile board member.
..In fact, Bush lost money for most of his well-connected investors. At the same time, the management fees and other expenses he collected from them kept him in business and enabled him to buy oil reserves for his company's own account, including the reserves that eventually attracted Harken's attention.
Three times during his years in Midland, Bush was saved from financial trouble or stagnation by the appearance of new partners or financial angels who gave him a fresh start. One was a Princeton classmate and friend of James A. Baker III, who was to serve as his father's secretary of state; another was a fellow Yale man who shared Bush's love for baseball.
The third was Harken, which was to save Bush from humiliating failure but also create a target for later criticism. Reporters would scrutinize the deal as early as 1990. Led by then-Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Bush's opponent in the 1994 gubernatorial election, his political critics have asked whether Harken used Bush's name to obtain oil business. Even now, questions linger about a 1990 sale of Harken stock by Bush that was the subject of a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
...The only hope seemed to be finding another angel. Bush, Rea and Conaway started looking for small or medium-sized companies they might approach. Rea remembers they contacted at least one, in Pennsylvania, and were turned down.
Harken ended the search for them. The company had been taken over in 1983 by a group headed by a New York lawyer and management expert, Alan G. Quasha, who seems to have had a penchant for stars on his board. Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros was one; he was listed as the company's biggest stockholder (46.8 percent) in 1986. Representatives of Harvard University's endowment fund and a wealthy Saudi real estate magnate were given seats on the board in 1987.
Bush's name was one of Spectrum's obvious assets, but, according to Jeffrey Laikind, who was on Harken's board at the time, not the most valuable one.
...The merger became final in September 1986, with Harken handing over one share of its publicly traded stock in return for roughly five shares of Spectrum.
...But four years later, his sale of his Harken stock prompted an SEC probe into whether he had engaged in insider trading. The probe centered on Bush's sale of all of his 212,140 shares of Harken stock for $4 a share on June 22, 1990, just before the conclusion of a second quarter that produced huge losses. The transaction was to net Bush $835,307, according to the "notice of proposed sale," signed and dated June 22, that Bush was required to send to the SEC as a member of Harken's board.
...Eight days after Bush's stock sale, Harken wound up its second quarter with operating losses from day-to-day activities of $6.7 million, almost three times the losses it reported for the second quarter of 1989.
The public didn't learn of this until Aug. 20, when the company, now known as Harken Energy, announced in a press release that its overall losses for the quarter, including non-recurring expenses as well as operating losses, totaled $23.2 million. Harken's stock had slipped to $3 a share earlier that month when Iraq's invasion of Kuwait stirred fears that it would endanger a potentially lucrative offshore drilling contract with Bahrain. On Aug. 20, the stock dropped to $2.37.
Did Bush know of the impending losses when he sold his stock in June? Federal securities law prohibits corporate "insiders" from trading "on the basis of" material information that is not publicly known.
Bush says he did not know, even though he had a seat on Harken's three-member audit committee as well as its eight-member board of directors. He said he had no idea Harken was going to get an audit report full of red ink until weeks after he had made the sale.
"I wouldn't have sold if I had," Bush said. "I got clearance by the lawyer [Harken general counsel Larry E. Cummings] to sell this stock. I was mindful that this transaction would be completely scrutinized. I knew the law and I sold at a time that I was cleared to sell."
Bush said he didn't seek a buyer, but was approached by a Los Angeles broker, Ralph D. Smith. Now retired, Smith said he had an institutional client who wanted a large bloc of Harken stock. Smith said he called other Harken officials before calling Bush on June 9, 1990.
"I had no takers until I got to him," Smith said. "It was just like a shot out of the blue."
Bush's lawyer, Robert Jordan, who also represented Harken in the SEC inquiry, said Bush and other board members were not informed until July 13, 1990, in a communication from Harken president Mikel Faulkner that "operating losses were incurred in the second quarter, which will be further quantified and explained." Even then, Jordan said, Faulkner did not provide details. Many companies project and announce expected profits and losses before the end of a quarter, but Jordan said this was not done at Harken.
Asked for a copy of the July 13 communique, or permission to inspect it, Jordan checked with company officials and said they would not allow it. He said Harken has "a policy of keeping internal documents private."
Before Bush's stock sale, Harken's audit committee Bush, Watson and another Harken director, Talat Othman met on June 11 with Faulkner and auditors from Arthur Andersen & Co., Harken's accountants. Jordan, however, said the committee "did not discuss operating losses that might be coming up, because that would be in the realm of conjecture and speculation." The minutes of the meeting, Jordan said, "show that."
Asked for a copy of the June 11 minutes or permission to inspect them, the company, through Jordan, again declined to make the records available. Jordan said company officials felt that granting the requests would put them on "a slippery slope."
Before giving Bush clearance to sell his stock, Jordan said that company counsel Cummings "checked with Mr. Faulkner at least and maybe others" to see if there was "any material, undisclosed information out there that would prevent the sale." The answer was no, Jordan said.
Faulkner, a certified public accountant who used to work at Arthur Andersen and who has spoken frequently with reporters over the years, declined through Jordan to be interviewed. So did Cummings.
The SEC investigation was launched in April 1991 when it found that Bush apparently failed to submit notice of actual sale of the stock (as distinct from the separate "notice of proposed sale") until eight months after the deadline. Bush said he is sure he did, but the filing couldn't be found.
The inquiry became an issue in the 1994 governor's race when Richards, the incumbent Democrat, challenged its thoroughness, calling it "at best, incomplete, and at worst, a coverup."
Bush was prepared, having obtained a letter from a top SEC official, associate director for enforcement Bruce A. Hiler, a year earlier.
Dated Oct. 18, 1993, three weeks before Bush announced his candidacy for governor, the carefully worded letter was addressed to Jordan and said that "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush, and that, at this time, no enforcement action is contemplated with respect to him."
Bush took that as vindication. "The SEC fully investigated the stock deal," he said in October 1994. "I was exonerated." Supporting Bush, the head of the SEC's enforcement division, William McLucas, went beyond the letter and stated publicly that "there was no case there."
Hiler, however, was more cautious. His statement said it "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result from the staff's investigation."
How thorough the SEC inquiry was remains unclear. Jordan said Harken provided investigators with "thousands of pages" of documents, including the June 11 minutes and Faulkner's July 13 communique. Investigators interviewed Cummings, stockbroker Smith and a member of the Arthur Andersen auditing team, but they did not talk to Faulkner or any other officers or directors of Harken.
In an interview, McLucas said the investigation was handled "the same way we would handle any inquiry as to [insider] trading or delinquency in reports," but such matters are usually not accorded high priority.
[End of Partial Transcript]
Records Show What Bush Knew Before Stock Sale
Regulators Concluded in 1992 That He Did Nothing Improper
The Dallas Morning News
By Mark Curriden
September 7, 2000
Days before selling 212,000 shares of stock in a Texas oil company in 1990, George W. Bush received a memo as a company director estimating it might lose $4 million that quarter and faced serious problems refinancing its debt, according to documents made public Wednesday.
The records released by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Mr. Bush's lawyer show Mr. Bush didn't have any information that wasn't publicly available elsewhere. And, his lawyer said, the records were available to federal regulators who investigated Mr. Bush's stock sale and did not alter their 1992 conclusion that the he did nothing improper.
The internal corporate documents, provided by the SEC after Freedom of Information requests from The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press, offer the most extensive details yet of Mr. Bush's knowledge of Harken Energy Corp.'s financial troubles when he sold his shares for $848,560 in June 1990.
Insider trading allegations have been raised during both Mr. Bush's run for governor and his presidential race. Mr. Bush has said he did not know that Harken was going to report a $22 million loss two months after he sold his stock.
"I absolutely had no idea and would not have sold it had I known," he told The News during his 1994 campaign for governor.
The records released Wednesday show Mr. Bush, a Harken board director and member of its audit committee, received a so-called "flash sheet" in early June 1990 estimating quarterly losses for the company would reach $4 million.
Other reports available to Mr. Bush disclosed that Harken faced a "liquidity crisis" regarding the refinancing of it's $43 million debt. Another told Mr. Bush the company was "in a state of noncompliance" with its lenders.
Those same documents also say the company expected to make a profit in subsequent quarters and that two of its largest stockholders had agreed to refinance its debt.
Federal law prohibits company insiders, such as corporate directors and consultants, from buying and selling stock based on private information they received as an officer of the company.
In separate internal SEC records obtained by the AP, federal investigators concluded in March 1992 that "Bush did not engage in illegal insider trading because it does not appear that he possessed nonpublic information or that he acted with wrongful intent when he sold the Harken stock."
Bush critics have noted that Mr. Bush's father was president at the time of the investigation and that a longtime Bush supporter, Richard Breeden, was then the SEC's general counsel.
Mr. Bush has said he received no special treatment and cited a letter from SEC associate director Bruce Hiler, stating that "the investigation has been terminated as to the conduct of Mr. Bush and that, at this time, no enforcement action is contemplated with respect to him."
Mr. Bush received the 212,156 shares of Harken stock in 1986 when he helped merge Spectrum 7, an oil company of which Mr. Bush was chairman and 15 percent owner. Mr. Bush has said he needed to sell his Harken stock to pay off a loan he got to invest in the Texas Rangers baseball club.
Mr. Bush's lawyer said Wednesday that the information, while new to the presidential campaign, is "old news.''
"The SEC did their job by the book, and this is old news," attorney Robert Jordan said. He said that "the company's financial situation was well-disclosed to the public" through filings at the time with the SEC.
"By the time Bush sold his stock, the cash crisis had been largely resolved," Mr. Jordan said. "By May 21, 1990, the major shareholders had agreed to a credit agreement which put $26 million into the company immediately. ...This stock sale was completely legal and proper."
The SEC investigators never interviewed Mr. Bush about what else he might have known about the company's financial situation before selling the stock.
The investigators said that Mr. Bush did not initiate the sale of his stock, that he was approached by a broker and checked with the company's general counsel about the propriety of the sale before carrying it out.
Seems that GW Bush followed the Enron exec Ken Lay's pattern exactly by dealing with terrorist Saudis, by using inside info to sell off stock and by using Arthur ANdersen to cover up the deeds. The parallells are identical in both cases. Not good.
These men are incestuously laying up treasures for themselves for the "Last Days" as predicted by the Bible since they know of and are participating in the Anti Christ world government program for the world.
'Course Dane would have been absolutely correct had he observed that the concept of "DIFFERENT standards" for the elite is lost on you.
I got your back, Uncle Bill, if the Anchor Club calls in the Junior League for a second assault.
It has been widely reported that Texas Gov. George W. Bush made money over the years with a little help from his friends. But new details show that he served on an energy corporations board and was able to realize a huge profit by selling his stock in the corporation because an accounting sleight-of-hand concealed it was losing large sums of money. Shortly after he sold, the stock price plummeted. That profit helped make him a multimillionaire.
By Knut Royce
The Center for Public Integrity
(Washington, 4 April) The year 1986 was very good for George W. Bush.
After a decade of striking Texas brown dust instead of oil, his luck finally turned that year when go-for-broke Harken Energy Corp. bought his failing oil exploration firm for stock. Four years later the company concealed large losses just before the GOP presidential hopeful unloaded those securities for a nice profit. That, in turn, helped finance his stake in the Texas Rangers baseball club and catapult him into the ranks of multimillionaires.
And it was in 1986, too, that Harkens CEO introduced Bush, the companys new director and consultantas well as son of then-Vice President George Bush--to a little startup health-care company. He put in a modest investment, and a few years later walked away with a six-figure windfall.
There also was a little benefit on the side. In 1994, when Bush was running for Texas governor, and scrambling for campaign cash, insiders in that health-care company, now known as Advance Paradigm, contributed $23,700.
Bushs sale of the Harken stock in 1990 attracted the attention of regulators and the national media because he was tardy in filing the required public disclosure, and because the trade came shortly before the company reported for the first time that it was incurring huge losses.
But The Public i has found that Harken was bleeding profusely even before Bush unloaded his stock. Harken effectively concealed the hemorrhaging by selling a retail subsidiary through a seller-financed loan but recording the transaction in its 1989 balance sheet as a cash sale. Securities and Exchange Commission records suggest that Bush, a company director who sat on Harkens audit committee and was a paid consultant to the firm, may nonetheless have been unaware of the sleight-of-hand accounting or, for that matter, other significant company actions Nevertheless, SEC accountants cried foul when it discovered Harken had recorded the 1989 sale as a capital gain.
But it was months after Bushs June 1990 sale of the stock at $4 a share, for a total of $848,560, that the SEC directed Harken to recast its 1989 annual report and to publicly disclose the extent of its losses that year, according to records reviewed by The Public i.
It is unclear how a timely acknowledgement of the true losses would have affected the value of the stock when Bush sold. But most investors look at a companys balance sheet, among other indicators of corporate well-being, before parting with their money.
Two months after Bushs sale, Harken reported for the first time in a quarterly report that it was losing a lot of money, and the stock dropped to $2.37 a share. By the end of the year, it was trading at about $1.
Harken masked its 1989 losses when in mid-year it sold 80 percent of a subsidiary, Aloha Petroleum, to a partnership of Harken insiders called International Marketing & Resources for $12 million, $11 million of which was through a note held by Harken. By Jan. 1, 1990, IMR, in turn, sold its stake in Aloha to a privately held company called Advance Petroleum Marketing, and the Harken loan was effectively transferred to Advance, though garanteed by IMR.
George and I Became Friends
Advance Petroleum was headed by a Texas entrepreneur, David Halbert, who had been a friend and business partner of Harkens CEO, Mikel Faulkner. In 1986, Faulkner had introduced Harkens newest director, Bush, to Halbert. Harken, in a stock swap, had just acquired the ailing Spectrum 7 Energy Corp., where Bush had been CEO and a significant shareholder.
George and I became friends, recalled Halbert in a telephone interview with The Public i. Halbert said that at the time Faulkner introduced Bush to him he had just formed a little home-health-care firm, Allied Home Pharmacy, and was in the process of raising $250,000 in seed money.
Mikel said (to Bush), Hey, you might want to invest in this, Halbert recalled. I said fine. I dont remember how many people we brought in, but it wasnt that many. Maybe 25 or 30 . . . It was sort of friends and family, and George invested. So did Faulkner. Halbert said Bush also put in a little more money in an offering to existing shareholders in 1991.
Halbert said he did not recall how much Bush invested in the company.
Allied Home Pharmacy became known as Advance Paradigm, one of the nations leading pharmacy benefits management companies, when it went public in 1996. Two years later, Bushs trust sold his stock in the firm.
Public records give no precise amount of how much he earned on the Advance stock sale, but Bushs financial disclosure form made public last year shows that he realized a capital gain, or profit, of as much as $1 million on the sale. Asked how much the Texas governor paid for the stock and how much he profited from the sale, spokesman Scott McClellan referred all questions to the manager of Bushs blind trust, Robert McCleskey. McCleskey declined to discuss his clients investment in the Advance stock. He said that under the terms of the Texas blind trusta legal requirement for the governor but less rigorous than the blind trust that applies to federal executive branch officershe cannot tell even Bush how much profit he made on the sale.
SEC Probe Was Limited
The SECs division of enforcement launched a probe of Bushs sale of his Harken stock the day after the Wall Street Journal on April 4, 1991, reported that he had been eight months late in filing the required insider-trading form with the regulators. This investigation was separate from the earlier division of corporation finance probe that resulted in Harkens recasting its 1989 balance sheet.
SEC enforcement investigators focused on whether Bush dumped his stock on June 22, 1990, because he knew that the companys second-quarter report, announced on Aug. 20, would show a $23.2 million loss and depress the stock. Part of that loss was $7.2 million that Harken wrote off because it was being pressed by a nervous bank and renegotiated the Aloha sale to generate quick cash. Alohas buyer, Advance Petroleum, was a clear winner in the renegotiated deal.
The SEC probe was limited to whether Bush had inside knowledge of the red ink that would be reported in the August filing and concluded that he did not.
It is unclear whether Bush, who holds a masters degree from the Harvard Business School, knew that the company, after five straight years of profits, began to bleed profusely in 1989, its first year of being traded on the New York Stock Exchange, though in its annual report for that year it had declared a net loss of only $3,300,000.
Even that small loss would have surprised readers of the January 1990 issue of National Petroleum News, a trade publication. Interviewed some time during the fourth quarter of 1989 for a lengthy and glowing article on Harken, company president Faulkner said that based on the strong earnings during the first three quarters, he expected that year to be the most profitable yet. We made $6 million last year (1988) . . .Well certainly be ahead of last year.
Alas, a year later, in an amended 1989 annual report filed on Feb. 5, 1991, the company reported that after discussions with the SEC, which insisted that Harken use the traditional cost recovery method of accounting, it was revising its declared 1989 net loss of $3,300,000 fourfold--to $12,566,000. Harken also filed an amendment to its third quarter report for 1989 revealing that over the first nine months of that year it had lost nearly $4 million, rather than the $4.6 million profit it had declared.
Faulkner, now Harkens chairman, did not return repeated calls from The Public i seeking comment on the Aloha sale and the subsequent public filings.
Company Directed to Correct Reports
The SEC can prosecute company officers for willfully filing fraudulent reports. But in the Harken case, as in most similarly questionable filings, the investigation was conducted by the agencys accounting staff, which did not believe there was intent to defraud and therefore did not refer the matter to the SECs enforcement division. Instead, the agency directed the company to publicly correct its reports, according to a retired SEC official familiar with aspects of the case.
It is also clear that Harken did not draft the misleading 1989 annual report, filed with the SEC on April 16, 1990, merely to buttress the value of Bushs stock. The filing date was two months before the company reported it became aware that Bush wanted to sell.
In its 1989 annual report, Harken recognized a profit of $8 million on the sale, which allowed it to limit its declared losses to only $3,300,000 for the year. But the SECobjected, saying that the income can be recognized only as the principal of the loan is reducedthat is, when real cash comes in.
A corporate accountant interviewed by The Public i agreed with the SECs claim, saying he found it unusual for a company to declare an earning on the sale when it is contingent on a loan. The accountant, who asked to not be further identified, said he knew of no other instance when a company declared full gain on a sale based on a loan.
Why Harken initially sold to IMR is unclear. But a senior tax lawyer who works for a leading auditing firm told The Public i after reviewing portions of the SEC filings that he believes Harken wanted to show a cash infusion to mitigate the 1989 losses.
It looks like the sale was done (to IMR) in order to show a book gain of $7 or $8 million, said the attorney, who also asked not to be further identified. That would have eliminated a good part of their loss during that time. Given the fact that the sale was to a related entity, I would guess they were just trying to show a better financial statement at that time.
Advances Halbert said that he believes IMR bought, and then quickly sold, Aloha because of a sudden change of heart. I think it had something to do with IMR wanting to own it [Aloha] but there was some concern about the affiliate relationship [between Harken and IMR], he said.
The SEC, too, was curious about the transaction, according to agency records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Six weeks before Harken publicly announced in January 1991 that it was revising its 1989 losses upward, the SEC asked the company to explain whether the sale of Aloha to Advance was contemplated at the time IMR purchased Aloha from Harken. In a letter, it also asked Harken to explain why the company and its independent accountants concluded it could declare a capital gain on the sale.
The SEC declined to provide Harkens responses to The Public i.
Conflicting Accounts Offered
In its public filings to the SEC, Harken gave conflicting accounts of who sold Aloha, who bought it, and even when the sale occurred.
In its 1989 annual report, for example, it declared that it sold Aloha to IMR on June 30. In one passage of the report, it says that IMR then sold Aloha to Advance on Jan. 1, 1990; in another it says IMR sold on March 30.
But in its 1990 report, Harken declared that it was its subsidiary E-Z Serve Holding Co. that sold Aloha to IMR.
Adding to the confusion, E-Z Serve, which shortly after the transaction was spun off as a separate publicly traded company, claimed in its 1991 annual report that it had sold Aloha to Advance Petroleumnot IMRin 1989.
Harken was notorious during that period for filing confusing reports. In 1991, Harken founder Phil Kendrick told Time magazine that the companys annual reports get me totally befuddled.Quoted in the same article, Faulkner had this advice to those trying to figure out the companys financial statements: Good luck. Theyre a mess.
The corporate fog did not, however, obscure the fact that by the time the SEC directed Harken to recast its 1989 report, Bush already had already sold his stock in the company.
The bulk of the $848,560 went to pay off a bank loan he had taken out in 1989 to buy a partnership interest in the Texas Rangers for $600,000. He received nearly $16 million for his stake when the team was sold two years ago.
Bushs run of financial good luck starting in 1986 is in stark contrast to the woeful performance of his previous oil ventures, which he had launched in 1977. Though he had little difficulty in rounding up investors for his Arbusto, Bush and Spectrum 7 oil exploration firms, they were all money losers.
Even as Harken in late 1989 and early 1990 appeared to be trying to minimize its losses, its bankers were clamping down because the company was having trouble meeting its loan payments.That led to a renegotiated loan agreement in May 1990, which required Harken to come up with fresh cash, raised the interest rate, required new guarantees from major shareholders and featured stricter terms overall.
After closure (on the sale of Aloha) Harken discovered they had trading losses on gasoline purchases and they came back to us and said, We really need some cash, Halbert recalled.
Cash Raised in Nick of Time
Halbert said he was able to raise the cash in the nick of timejust three days before Iraq invaded Kuwait, setting in motion huge gasoline-price increases that drove numerous small distributors out of business.
Under the original contract, Harken had given Advance an option to purchase the remaining 20 percent of Aloha, or 60,000 shares, for $50 each, or a total of $3 million.
By the time the contract was renegotiated in August, Advance agreed to pay off the $10 million note by the following year, which it did, instead of in March 1993 as stipulated in the original contract.It also relieved Harken from picking up the cost of fixing leaking underground tanks to meet environmental standards.
In turn, Advance got the $3 million of Aloha stock for $1. Harken also forgave $5 million in loans it had made to Aloha and about $1 million in interest payments.
The renegotiated contract reduced Harkens bottom line, and the SEC clearly believed the write-off might have helped depress the stock. During its investigation of whether Bush benefited from insider information when he sold his stock, the SEC on July 25, 1991, asked both Bush and Harken to disclose when the companys officers and directors first became aware . . . that the Advance note . . . was going to be renegotiated; and that Harken intended to write down its investment in Aloha.
Unaware of Magnitude
After the SEC ended its investigation, according to one of its memos, the regulators concluded that Harken and Bush were unaware of the magnitude of the write- downs until at least mid-July, or after Bushs stock sale.
While the renegotiated contract clearly hurt Harkens bottom line, Halbert admits it clearly was beneficial for Advance Petroleum.
Meanwhile, Bush was generating admirers among Advance Paradigms insiders, the limited number of shareholders.
In 1994, when the company was known as Advance Health Care and Bush was making his first run for Texas governor, those insiders gave him $23,700 for his first gubernatorial run, including $14,500 from Halbert, his brother, Jon, their father and their wives. Virtually all the money came on the same day, July 22.
That was his first time around, and he was trying to raise money any way he could, recalled Halbert.
And, as has been the case throughout Bushs career, a long-time friend of the family came to his aid.
This time it was Benno C. Schmidt, the pioneering venture capitalist and partner in J. H. Whitney & Co. in New York. Schmidt, who died last October at age 86, had been a director of Advance Health Care, and J. H. Whitney had provided the firm with much needed capital in 1993.
Benno was an old friend of the Bush family. He called me one day and said, David, I think we ought to do something for young George, Halbert recalled. He said, I think we ought to have a fund-raiser.
So after a board meeting on July 22, Bush spoke at a private little dinner attended by the directors and their wives and walked away that night with $20,750.
Knut Royce is a senior fellow at the Center for Public Integrity.