Posthumous honour for BCCI founder

Published: February 10, 2015
Agha Hasan Abedi meeting the Pope. PHOTO: FILE

Agha Hasan Abedi meeting the Pope. PHOTO: FILE


Almost twenty years after his death, the Pakistan government has decided to bestow the Sitara-e-Imtiaz on Agha Hasan Abedi, founder CEO of United Bank, the third largest bank in the country, and Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the only global bank to have been founded in Pakistan.

The announcement was made by President Mamnoon Hussain’s office on Monday, saying that the award will be officially made during a ceremony on March 23.

“The late Agha Hasan Abedi was a famous banker and he backed many literary and educational institutions in Pakistan and other third world countries,” the brief communiqué read.

Born in India’s UP state in 1922, Abedi earned a Masters degree in English from Lucknow University. Known internationally for questionable business practices, in Pakistan he is remembered for supporting leading health and educational institutions like FAST, GIKI and SIUT.  He died on August 6, 1995 at the age of 74.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Feb 10, 2015 - 9:58AM

    “……Known internationally for questionable business practices, in Pakistan he is remembered for supporting leading health and educational institutions like FAST, GIKI and SIUT….”
    May Allah save my country!Recommend

  • Raja Porus
    Feb 10, 2015 - 10:23AM

    Even though the greatest Pakistani banker of all time and arguably the modern-day Lorenzo de Medici should have been bestowed with the Sitara-e-Pakistan, it is very nice to see that the Pakistani people and government are finally recognizing their true heroes like Agha Sahib, who carried the Pakistani flag and planted it in 73 countries of the world in just 20 years (BCCI). There will never be anyone like him, what a great man!Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2015 - 10:31AM

    Not much content about Sir Abedi available over the internet. I gathered some very rare information from senior most bankers and put it in my blog.

  • Shereen
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:29PM

    Delighted to know that Mr. Abedi has finally been honored by Pakistan after 20 years. To extract some more of his outstanding achievements, the government should investigate on the real ownership of the multi-billion dollar Attock Group, which was financed by BCCI through a front man or rent a face called “Pharon”. By paying few 100 million dollars in settlement to the liquidators; Pharon now owns assets worth billions of dollars in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    Feb 10, 2015 - 3:20PM

    This award is a celebration of criminality.

    Millions of hardworking people lost their savings.

    Who will forget this cover of Time magazine ‘ the worlds sleaziest bank ‘,16641,19910729,00.html

    How warped, who our heroes are. This discredits the award and those who have earned it in the past.Recommend

  • AQ.M
    Feb 10, 2015 - 3:40PM

    @Babbarsher Khan: Unfortunately we Pakistanis only believe what international media say…… we never think the inside conspiracies behind all defaming info……. Here are some extract for you:

    With the nationalization of UBL, the foresighted Abedi persuaded the Arabs to invest in a new bank – Bank of Credit and Commerce International in 1972. With startup capital of just $2million, BCCI commenced its operations from a two-roomed office in London, and rapidly expanded to over 72 countries throughout the world with over 16,000 employees… making it one of the largest private banks in the world. Arabs trusted BCCI with their finances and reserves over the Western Banks, as most rulers felt The West exploited Arab wealth to finance Israeli military and economic development, according to The Independent. The shocking pace at which BCCI had established itself as a global leader earned it many powerful international enemies. Modeling after the World Bank, Abedi proposed a ‘third world bank’ to President Jimmy Carter, which would solely serve third world countries, offering them large loans against cash crops and export, thereby threatening the monopoly of The World Bank and other multinationals.

    This resulted in a wide scale campaign against the BCCI, framing it for illegal activities such as funding terrorists and money laundering amongst other crimes. Abedi was maligned by the very corporations that were threatened by his expanding business. BCCI was framed as a vehicle free of Government control… even though such entities like the World Bank are independent of government control, this bank was accused of facilitating ‘illegal activity’.

    The bank was held up in controversy and allegations and was torn apart in 1992. He died of heart failure at Karachi’s Aga Khan Hospital in 1995.Recommend

  • Raja Porus
    Feb 10, 2015 - 5:37PM

    @ Babbarsher Khan: either you are too young to recall the genius that Agha Sahib was, or you are one of those usual pessimists who don’t see the positives but only focus on the negatives. ET should highlight why Mr. Abedi is known internationally for “questionable business practices”. In my opinion and in every knowledgeable Pakistani’s opinion, it is because in only 18 years, BCCI managed to spread its operations to 73 countries around the globe and became the 5th largest private bank in the world, yes IN THE WORLD! Name one Pakistani after Mohammad Ali Jinnah who has been able to achieve this much for Pakistan and Pakistanis in such little time.

    @ Shereen: completely agreed. The background is that President Zia requested Mr. Abedi to bring foreign direct investment into Pakistan. Mr. Abedi agreed and initiated various investments such as Attock Refinery and Attock Cement. These were done through Mr. Ghaith Pharaon, who was a personal friend of Mr. Abedi and was also very close to the Saudi King. The reason for using Mr. Pharaon was that BCCI as a bank could not invest in private businesses as per State Bank of Pakistan regulations. The country benefited, FDI was initiated and brought in, and the economy got a boost. However, when BCCI was forcibly and illegally shut down in 1991 by the Bank of England, the opportunist and fraud/thief Mr. Pharaon stole the Attock Group, which rightfully belonged to the shareholders of BCCI (namely Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan and Khaled bin Mahfouz etc.) and the thousands of BCCI employees who got laid off because of the illegal shutdown by BoE.
    Attock Group must be taken back from the Syrian thief Pharaon, it will happen one day InshAllah.Recommend

  • Raja Porus
    Feb 10, 2015 - 6:08PM

    @ Woz Ahmed: if only people were to get their facts right before stating something. Maybe you don’t know that no one in the world lost their savings due to BCCI’s illegal shutdown….more than 95% of depositor’s money got returned to the depositors (the remaining 5% being literally eaten up by greedy liquidators such as Price Waterhouse Coopers and Deloitte & Touche as well as selfish lawyers and court fees). So get your facts RIGHT before making such a ludicrous claim! I would say you’re the criminal for such a blatant misstatement of facts. Everyone knows who owns Time Magazine, so please don’t try to feed us Pakistanis with that crap; we know better.Recommend

  • Baloch
    Feb 10, 2015 - 6:10PM

    @Woz Ahmed:
    Abedi’s genius began where you intelligence ends.Recommend

  • Mehr
    Feb 10, 2015 - 6:10PM

    About time. Well deserved.Recommend

  • Feb 24, 2015 - 1:40AM

    @G. Habib Uddin Khan:
    Please try these words to find detailed information about BCCI
    Bank of Credit & commerce
    Ziauddin Akbar
    Agh hasan abedi
    Swaleh Naqvi
    John Kerry’s report on BCCIRecommend

  • Feb 25, 2015 - 2:51AM

    I wonder why my comments were not placed here?Recommend

  • Feb 25, 2015 - 2:59AM

    Raja Poras describes Abedi using Ghaith Pharon’ name in investing in Attock Oil as simply innocent action and calls Ghaith Pharon a thief. Great.
    This is what Abedi has been doing in many countries. This is called financial crime and was punished for purchasing American Banks by the same trick. Recommend

  • Shah(Berlin)
    Mar 10, 2015 - 11:37AM

    @Woz Ahmed:

    And Barclay ABN AMBRO and other banks are saints right….??? Why only play with BCCiRecommend

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