The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of BCCI
by Jonathan Beaty (Author)
Two journalists with Time magazine provide a behind-the-scenes look at the BCCI scandal, describing a complex web of intrigue, kickbacks, corruption, and coverup and their cloak-and-dagger investigation into the case. 100,000 first printing. $100,000 ad/promo. Tour.
An unconventional but thorough audit of the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International, by a pair of Time correspondents whose coverage of the stateless institution’s scandalous collapse earned them a slew of journalism awards. Beaty and Gwynne (Selling Money, 1986) offer a four-part rundown on BCCI, the financial establishment of choice for arms dealers, drug traffickers, intelligence operatives, terrorists, Third World strongmen, and other scofflaws. The authors first recount how confidential sources tipped them on the biggest story of their professional lives. They then provide a concise, third- person briefing on the Arab-owned, Pakistani-run bank’s origins and off-the-books operating procedures. Chartered in backwater venues like the Cayman Islands to evade oversight by regulatory authorities, BCCI (founded in 1972) resorted to money laundering, Ponzi schemes, secret ledgers, tax evasion, and allied misdeeds in catering to its criminal clientele. An accounting commissioned by the Bank of England finally exposed the extent of BCCI’s deficits and offenses, impelling the bank’s closing. Resuming the narrative as it unfolded from their points of view, the authors cover how they learned that BCCI was something larger and more sinister than a transnational depository institution. In conclusion, they address the failure of governments everywhere to clamp down on BCCI despite abundant evidence of its corruption. Throughout, Beaty and Gwynne make clear that the bank’s capacity to suborn or use pillars of the political community played a crucial role in its success. The ranks of those tarnished include the prominent likes of Lord Callaghan, Jimmy Carter, Clark Clifford, and Bert Lance, while the much shorter list of good guys features Jack Blum (a former Senate investigator) and Gotham’s D.A., Robert Morgenthau. The ringside format takes some getting used to, but it ultimately affords as vividly clear an explanation of the BCCI conspiracy as we’re apt to get anytime soon. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs–not seen) — Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
- Hardcover: 399 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 6, 1993)
Outlaw Bank is an excellent and far-reaching piece of well-documented investigative reporting that carefully uncovers the BCCI scandal and the ensuing US cover-up attempts. The sheer scope of the corruption, the deception, the narcotics and clandestine weapons trade involving US government agencies, personnel, and very well-known politicians is stunning. Not only is it as bad as you imagined in your wildest dreams, but many of the same people are still exerting influence (James Baker, Jimmy Carter). BCCI may be gone, but after reading this book and then looking around, you will conclude that not a thing has really changed.
The book for the most part stays away from hyperbole, and while I found it a little difficult going in some of the explanations of financial transactions, I realized often that’s because I just couldn’t believe what I was reading!