Tuesday, September 08, 2009

From the Archive: Senate BCCI Inquiry Targets Kissinger's PR Firm

The Boston Globe
Dec. 3, 1991.

BOSTON -- Most of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has agreed to subpoena the records of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's public relations firm and of a former White House aide to determine if they exercised undue influence in behalf of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

Congressional sources said a "sizable majority" of the 18 members on the committee agreed to issue the subpoenas to eight businesses and people who have been linked in some way to the BCCI case.

The subpoenas were sought by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Hank Brown, R- Colo., the top members of a Foreign Relations subcommittee that has spearheaded Congress' investigation into the BCCI case.

Neither Kerry nor Brown could be reached for comment Monday. However, congressional sources said, both senators lobbied other members of the committee last week to go along with the request for the subpoenas, which are expected to be served in the next few weeks.

"The senators are coordinating their efforts on this," a Republican aide, who asked not to be identified, said of Brown and Kerry. "There is a shared sentiment between them that the only way to get to the bottom of many of their questions is through subpoenas."

A major theme of the probe by the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations is whether BCCI was able to avert investigations by the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve Bank or other U.S. agencies by hiring Washington lobbying firms or seeking favors through its array of political contacts.

The committee sources said the panel would seek records from Kissinger's New York-based firm to determine if it had any links with BCCI or its subsidiary, First American Bankshares of Washington, or any other BCCI companies or figures.

Regulators seized the international bank after allegations of long-term, widespread fraud.

L. Paul Bremer, a partner in Kissinger's firm, refused to comment on the planned subpoena request. Bremer denied last month that the firm had been contracted to represent BCCI or any of its subsidiaries.

That denial came in response to a Boston Globe report, based on BCCI documents, that said the bank had sought to retain Kissinger Associates in late 1988 about the time that BCCI was indicted on charges of money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

In one of the documents, a BCCI executive told his superior that Kissinger had relayed his recommendation that the bank hire a Washington lobbying firm to mount a public relations blitz to offset adverse publicity.

Bremer denied that Kissinger had ever offered such advice and said Abol Helmy, the BCCI executive, was lying when he claimed in the memos that he had a series of discussions with Alan Stoga, a partner in Kissinger Associates, about having the firm represent BCCI.

Helmy and Stoga also are scheduled to receive subpoenas from the Foreign Relations Committee, sources said. The subpoenas are likely to touch off a major legal battle between the committee and Kissinger, who has fiercely opposed making his client list public.

Original headline: "Bank Inquiry Targets Kissinger's PR Firm"