Senator intervened for BCCI

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK - The scandal surrounding the collapsed Bank of Credit & Commerce International widened yesterday when it was revealed that a senior Republican senator had intervened on the bank's behalf in 1990 while at the same time asking it to lend dollars 10m ( pounds 5m) to a friend, writes Larry Black.

Orrin Hatch, a member of the Senate judiciary committee, called the US Justice Department on behalf of BCCI after the bank settled drug money laundering charges in Florida and assigned a senior aide to help the bank defend the settlement publicly, a former lawyer for the bank said.

Mr Hatch also delivered a speech written by Robert Altman, a BCCI lawyer, to the Senate defending the bank's integrity, only a few days before he called BCCI's president, Swaleh Naqvi, in London to urge approval of a loan to Monzer Hourani, a Houston property developer.

The new accusations, published in yesterday's New York Times, quoted a former BCCI lawyer, Raymond Banoun, who described Mr Hatch's actions in defence of the rogue bank after the Florida settlement, which was criticised by many US officials as being too lax.