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Response to valerief (Reply #10)

Fri Nov 13, 2015, 02:46 PM

16. Banking CIA-Style : How the Money Moves Under The Table to Fund Covert Operations.

"What S&L crisis? Is that like the Wall Street bailout thing?"

Banking CIA-Style : How the Money Moves Under The Table to Fund Covert Operations.

August 04, 1991|Burton Hersh | Burton Hersh's new book, "The Old Boys," about the origins of the CIA, will be published next year by Scribner's

BRADFORD, N.H. — The worldwide dredging operation on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International has carried with it to the surface the Central Intelligence Agency. This is an old story by now. Sink any hook deep enough, haul on it hard enough and up comes the CIA, again.

Perhaps this is inevitable--the consequence of climbing into bed for almost half a century with talent that ranged from the Mafia (repeatedly) to drug lords of every odor from Canarsie, N.J., to the palaces of Bangkok, Thailand. The CIA has always promoted itself as an equal-opportunity employer.

Created by the National Security Act of 1947 to counter by any imaginable means--preferably foul--the postwar depredations of International Communism, the CIA was expected to immerse itself at society's tangled depths. What it was not to do was join the heavies.


Dulles had long served--with certain ill-disguised misgivings--as general counsel and board member of the New York affiliate of J. Henry Schroder. Almost as his dowry, Dulles laid before the U.S. intelligence community the international amenities of the Schroder group once he became involved with the agency in the late '40s. Schroder retained its long-standing ties throughout South and Central America, as well as durable associations with senior German industrial and intelligence personalities--including many former Nazis. It was this network that became the flywheel of innumerable CIA projects in Europe--especially after Dulles himself moved up to director in 1953.

Even then, the question arose who was using whom. By 1980, when the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia collapsed shortly after the apparent suicide of its founder, Frank Nugan, another incident of massive CIA involvement in a profoundly corrupt banking empire slowly reached public awareness. Like BCCI, the Nugan Hand Bank amounted to a global Ponzi scheme. After recruiting a reputable-appearing assortment of retired senior U.S. military and ex-CIA personnel, the Nugan Hand entrepreneurs scoured U.S. military installations worldwide for deposits. They pledged to pay double-digit interest--offshore and tax free. They used this stake to underwrite rogue enterprises throughout the planet.

The renegade ex-CIA arms merchant, Edwin Wilson, financed his catastrophic weaponry empire through Nugan Hand, including, by the end, the transfer of tons of plastique to Moammar Kadafi. According to a galvanizing 1982 series in the Wall Street Journal by Jonathan Kwitny, the bank not only financed, but arranged for the trans-shipment of, millions of dollars worth of heroin--often by the contract pilots who flew for Air America, the CIA's huge proprietary fleet. "Air America was a Vietnam War-era airline," Kwitny wrote, "with close connections with the CIA. U.S. drug enforcement officials now acknowledge that the airline also occasionally ran heroin out of Southeast Asia's famed 'Golden Triangle' poppy-growing areas." A Joint Task Force study by Australian officials confirmed the extensive use of the Nugan Hand Bank as a blind depository by CIA leaders. The fast-moving co-founder of the bank, ex-Green Beret Michael Hand, bragged regularly about his intimacy with CIA operatives before he disappeared. By then the bank itself had collapsed.

With Nugan Hand down, the rise of the BCCI was more than providential. Had not a coalition of Pakistani and Saudi sharpshooters set it up, the agency would probably have contrived to reinvent it. U.S. diplomacy of recent decades has depended more on whom we can pay off quietly than whom we can talk around. It remains much cheaper to bribe than invade, as our intelligence mentors, the British, always insisted. Yet still they object, because BCCI payments went out at CIA request to winkle out the unpublished details of English arm sales and overseas contracts.



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