2007-07-20 / Community

Weiner Calls For Bank's Investigation

In light of recent news reports that Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia used a United States bank account to skim funds off the top of a 20-year, $86-billion British-Saudi Arabia arms deal, Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, has asked the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the bank's compliance with USA PATRIOT Act due diligence requirements.

Prince Bandar negotiated a 20 year, $86 billion arms-for-oil deal with Britain in 1985. The deal supplied the Saudi Royal Air Force with 120 fighter jets and military equipment. According to the news reports, Prince Bandar then set up a secret $240 million a year slush fund at the Washington DC area Riggs Bank, which over a decade accumulated some $2 billion in payments, some of which went to his private plane.

According to the USA Patriot Act, U.S financial institutions are required to monitor the bank accounts of foreign clients with more then $1 million in their accounts. Accounts held by senior foreign political figures, like Prince Bandar, require additional scrutiny.

Riggs Bank has a history of questionable accounts. In 2003, the bank was fined $25 million for failing to report suspicious transactions in accounts held by the government of Equatorial Guinea, and by Saudi Arabian diplomats. Also, Riggs has previously failed to comply with mandatory background checks of foreigners, two of the 9/11 hijackers opened accounts at this bank and ties to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet were uncovered in 2003.

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