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Mohammed Hammoud15

Mohammed Hammoud15

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Published by: arielky on Apr 25, 2009
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MOHAMMED HAMMOUD: BCCI'S FLEXIBLEFRONT-MANIntroduction
As the BCCI scandal has unfolded, MohammedHammoud has emerged as a shadowy figure withclose ties to a number of powerful American politicaland government figures.During the 1980's, Hammoud acted as a front-man ornominee for BCCI, became an owner of BCCI and of CCAH, the holding company for First American,borrowed over $110 million from BCCI, much of which he failed to make interest payments on, andmade numerous investments in the United Stateswith funds provided him by BCCI, and in one case,backed up by guarantees from First American.During the same period, Hammoud, a little knownLebanese merchant, also purchased the shares inFirst American held by Clark Clifford and RobertAltman; had his U.S. real estate investmentsmanaged by the current U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain,Charles W. Hostler; had contact with officials from theState Department concerning the release of U.S.hostages from Beirut and other issues pertaining toLebanon, and developed a personal and businessrelationship with Michael Pillsbury, a former assistant
 
Undersecretary of Defense and Senate staff assistant.After BCCI's indictment in October, 1988 by the U.S.Attorney in Tampa, Hammoud also worked closelywith BCCI'scriminal defense team in Washington to determinewhether it would be possible to "reverse Tampa" bymeeting with higher-level federal officials inWashington. In the fall of 1989, Hammoud actuallymet with high-ranking officials at Treasury and Justiceconcerning the BCCI case, and had ongoing contactwith Senate staffer Pillsbury seeking to assist BCCI indefending itself against its criminal case.
 Hammoud's multiple roles in connection with BCCIcontinued until his sudden death on May 3, 1990, atthe very time that investigations of BCCI wereintensifying. After his death, press accounts raisedquestions as to whether his death was real or staged,and law enforcement indictments have describedHammoud's current status as "reportedly dead."
 
Who is Mohammed Hammoud?
Little is known of Hammoud's background, althoughAbdur Sakhia, the former general manager for BCCIN.Y., described Hammoud as a merchant who at onetime operated a stall in one of Beirut's open-airmarkets:My memory goes back about 27 or 28 years when Iwent first to Beirut. He was a small time money
 
changer.
In interviews with Subcommittee staff, Nazir Chinoy,the BCCI general manager in Paris, rememberedHammoud as:A short man, not a very impressive personality. . . Myimpression of Hammoud, to me Hammoud was notrich. Pharoan had physical power from his bearing hisconfidence. Hammoud was a slimey sort of a chap,not a forceful personality. Would Hammoudunderstand foreign policy? I do not think so. He wasnot a worldly man. Pharoan yes. Hammoud no.
 In testimony before the Subcommittee in 1991,Massihur Rahman, BCCI's former chief financialofficer, described Hammoud as "a medium sizedbusinessman." BCCI's files indicate that Hammoud'swealth grew exponentially, and inexplicably, duringthe 1980's, at a clip of almost $5 million a year. By1989 he is listed as owning assets in excess of $35million.
Nevertheless, according to Chinoy,Hammoud did not give "the impression of being anextremely rich man from his clothes and generalbehavior."
 At some point during the 1970's Hammoud becamevery close to the top management at BCCI. Naqvihad worked in Lebanon and BCCI had branches there,but the Subcommittee has been unable to determinewho originally introduced Hammoud to BCCI.Hammoud is described in a 1983 BCCI memorandumas "a very good customer of the BCC Group," who

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