At $10,000 million, BCCI was the biggest bank fraud of all time. They smuggled out millions for General Noriega. They laundered drug money in zillions. They took Abu Nidal on Knightsbridge shopping trips. They worked with the CIA and MI5. They were based in, and did most of their business in, London. But it is the USA which has jailed them.
Yet BCCI’s founder, Agha Hasan Abedi, was not a wholly unattractive figure. Agha Sahib was a Moslem from Lucknow in India – a city of poets and Nawabs – and he had the quiet, intensely polite manner of many educated Indians. He wanted to run his bank as a big family. Lord Bingham thinks that Abedi’s vision of a bank catering to the poor and to the Third World had genuine idealism and nobility.
The Adams and Frantz book has villains but also heroes. Senator Kerry’s committee tracked down the frauds – and accused our ever-august Bank of England of a cover-up. Bob Mazur, an heroic US Customs man, spent years risking his life pretending to be a Medellín Cartel chap in need of