UPI, May 3, 1983
…In west Beirut, the second explosion in as many nights ripped through the Hamra district, injuring at least three people, officials said. An American University Hospital spokesman said they were injured apparently by smoke and flying glass. The explosion struck a shopping area about a block from the Commodore Hotel, where reporters traveling with Secretary of State George Shultz were lodged. The blast ripped through a building containing the Mebco Bank and several small shops including a Japanese airline office. Its cause was not immediately clear.
The American Banker, October 23, 1985
A Current Listing of Edge Banks And the People Who Manage Them By Rita Kay Meyer
Name: Petra International Banking Corp.
Date established: October 19, 1983
Who runs Edge Bank: Mohamed R. Chalabi
Title: general manager
Number of employees: 26
Total Assets ($000)
Dec. 31, 1984 59,717
Dec. 31, 1983 23,074
Financial Times, October 23, 1986
Arab Banking 2; Finance Groups Penetrate Barrier
By William Dullforce
The visible Arab banking presence in Switzerland is predominantly Lebanese, is heavily concentrated on Geneva and is concerned primarily with the managing of the wealth of private investors…
The crisis in Lebanon in the 1970s prompted local banks to look for safer havens in Paris, London and Switzerland. Two important arrivals in 1976 were Audi Bank and the Banque de Commerce and Placements, a subsidiary of BCCI, London, in which the principal shareholder is the Al-Nahayan family of Abu Dhabi…
From Switzerland Audi Bank has moved into the US, where it has established a NY affiliate, tapping a similar market for companies and individuals of Lebanese origin. In February a representative office was set up in Miami to cater for Lebanese and other customers in Latin America…
…Another relative newcomer, Mebco bank, is part of the Mebco-Petra
group which includes the Middle East Banking Company, Beirut, the National Bank of Sudan and Petra Bank of Amman.
Legal Times, February 1, 1988
DIGESTS & DOCKETS; Federal Digests US Court Of Appeals For DC Circuit; Civil Procedure; Pg. 23
…Appellant First Chicago International Bank (FCI) brought a suit under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against United Exchange Company (UNEXCO), a currency trading company with its sole place of business in Jordan; Petra Bank, a Jordanian banking concern; and Petra International Banking Corp. (PIBC), a subsidiary of Petra with its sole place of business in DC.
The complaint alleged that the three defendants had defrauded FCI of $23 million through a check-kiting scheme involving the transfer of large sums of money between certain accounts at FCI in NY and PIBC in the District. After FCI pursued preliminary discovery unre-lated to the merits, UNEXCO moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Petra and PICB conceded personal jurisdiction.
Twelve days after oral argument on the jurisdictional motion, Petra and PIBC filed motions to dismiss on the merits under Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(h)(2); the court treated them as motions for summary judgment because of their reliance on matters outside the pleadings.
The Washington Post, May 23, 1989
…ODD LOTS 1989 Export Excellence Awards, given each year by the District to firms that make significant increases in export sales, will go to MVM Security Inc., specialists in security systems, Petra International Banking Co, the international law firm Mason, Fenwick and Lawrence…
Newsday, June 22, 1989
Guardian Bank Closed Amid Fraud Charges
By Nicholas Goldberg
The Guardian Bank, a 17-year-old Long Island institution that for years has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, was closed down by federal
agents yesterday morning, amid charges of gross mismanagement and fraud…At the same time, more than a dozen FBI agents raided the executive offices of its subsidiary, the NY Guardian Mortgagee Corp., seeking documents about allegations of misappropriated funds and personal loans to the bank's owner, Louis B. Bernstein…
Maloney said there also were allegations that Guardian Bank engaged in a "sham divestiture" of New York Guardian that involved misappropriating funds from the subsidiary and funneling them through a Swiss bank. According to the affidavit for the search war-rant, Bernstein improperly transferred $5.4 million to Mebco Bank in Geneva, which in turn lent $5 million back to a 3rd company owned entirely by Bernstein. That company then bought 2 Guardian Bank subsidiaries - including the mortgage company - for $1million.…Maloney said his office, the FBI and other federal agencies are continuing the investigation.
AP, June 21, 1989
Bank and Mortgage Investment Companies Taken Over by Government
…US Attorney Andrew Maloney said investigators obtained search
warrants based on allegations of self-dealing and misuse of bank resources. They cited transactions made by Louis B. Bernstein, president of New York Guardian and the largest shareholder of Guardian Bank.
Maloney said that among the allegations was that Bernstein was involved in a sham divestiture in which $5.4 million was improperly transferred from New York Guardian to Mebco Bank of Geneva. The Swiss bank than lent $5 million to LBB Co., a company owned by Bernstein, and LBB bought New York Guardian and another Guardian Bank subsidiary,Guardian Diversified Services Inc, for $1million
Financial Times, August 18, 1989
The Battle For Lebanon
Central Banker Fighting To Keep A Devastated Economy Afloat By Lara Marlowe
…Since Bank Almashrek, Lebanon's second largest bank, collapsed last December in a welter of bad loans, five Lebanese banks in Europe have been shut by French and Swiss banking authorities. One of these, Banque de Participations et de Placements (BPP) in Lugano and Paris, was related to Almashrek. But the three banks which shut in April,May and July - Middle East Banking Company (Mebco) in Geneva, United Banking Corporation (UBC) in Paris and Lebanese-Arab Bank in Paris - had
unrelated liquidity problems.In Beirut, the news from Paris and Switzerland created panic among deposit-ors of Mebco, Banque du Credit Populaire (the parent of UBC) and Lebanese Arab Bank, and added to growing distrust among small depositors who increasingly prefer to bank with French or other non-Lebanese banks in Beirut…
MidEast Markets, September 4, 1989
Jordanian banks' crisis
The management committee of the newly-merged Petra Bank and Jordan-Gulf Bank has called in the internationally renowned team of accountants, Arthur Anderson, to review the affairs of the new venture. The move marks the latest attempt to salvage confidence in the activities of the commercial banking sector in Jordan.
The brief of the consultants is initially being confined to the activities of Petra Bank. Arthur Anderson is being asked to look into the affairs of the bank both inside the kingdom and abroad. It will then advise the committee on the restructuring of the new outfit. In addition to its international reputation, it is believed that Arthur Anderson was selected for the task because it already had a local pres-ence in Jordan. It is expected to report to the committee in stages in view of the complexity of the affairs of the new bank.
The two banks were merged at the beginning of August because of concern at the health of both institutions. It has long been government policy to encourage the merger of financial institutions in order to consol-idate this sector where there is too little business for the commercial banks, finance houses and insurance companies in the market. Some voluntary mergers have already taken place amongst the latter 2 categories. This is the first merger between 2 commercial banks, and the first to be ordered, rather than encouraged, by the Central Bank of Jordan.
The Central Bank, which has emerged as newly interventionist and purposeful since the recall of a former governor, Mohammed Said Nabulsi, to head the institution, appointed the six-man management committee.It is led byWalid Asfour, a former industry and trade minister and a member of an old merchant family. His deputy, Jawad Anani, has also held the indus-try and trade portfolio and has been a labour minister. Most recently he was head of the Royal Scientific Society. The committee also includes the Central Bank's head of bank supervision department, Ahmed Abdul Fattah.
The committee was also to have included the former chairman and general manager of the Petra Bank, Ahmed Chalabi. He was the inspiration behind a bank which rapidly acquired a reputation for ambition and innovation
amidst a commercial banking sector in Jordan which is generally cautious and conservative. Despite only being formed in 1978 it quickly emerged as 1 of the most dynamic and important banks in the kingdom. For instance it was the first Jordanian bank to issue a credit card.
As well as being an innovative banker Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi by origin, had been integrated into Jordanian society. He is generally known as having close links with Crown Prince Hassan, and has bank lent to institutions identified with the royal family.
Whereas Petra Bank profited from the boom years, it was disproportionate-ly affected by the recession in the kingdom. Its lending strategy resulted in a crop of bad debts, a problem which also afflicts the smaller Jordan-Gulf Bank. The combined bad debts of the new bank are believed to amount to $81m.
Although he was given a place on the new committee, Mr Chalabi did not remain in Jordan to take up the position. He left the country sometime in the middle of August. His appointment to the committee would seem to have been a gesture of goodwill by the Central Bank to the end that it was not contemplating moves against him and would not do so, providing his co-operation was assured.
Washington Post, September 14, 1989
Hussein Needs All His Survivor Skills Now
By Jim Hoagland
…Hussein had been off the screen for US and Israeli policy makers since
August 1988, when he abandoned Jordan's sovereignty over the West Bank territory occupied by Israel in 1967.By taking Jordan out of any immediate Middle East peace efforts, Hussein complicated US diplomacy and exacerbated Israel's internal political struggle over Palestinian nationalism.
The Bush administration has seemed ambivalent in its dealings with Hussein.The decision to open a political dialogue with the PLO increased fears in Amman that Washington may come to support the dream of Israel's right wing: transforming Hussein's East Bank kingdom into a Palestinian-ruled state that will absorb Palestinian nationalism.
The concern about wavering US support may have helped trigger Hussein's still unexplained decision to turn to the Baathist regime in Iraq in search of security and cash. In recent months, Jordan has helped Iraq ship large quantities of artillery and ammunition into Lebanon for use against Syria. The result has been to break the political truce Hussein had labored so
hard to reach with Syria and to suck Jordan far more deeply into the Lebanese quagmire than Hussein has ever allowed before.