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A Full Service Bank: How BCCI Stole Billions Around the World Hardcover – April 1, 1992

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Founded in 1972, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) started out as a small Third World banking operation and became in 20 years "one of the world's largest privately owned banks with $20 billion in assets and four hundred branches spread across 73 countries at its zenith." Unfortunately it came crashing down in July 1991 when banking regulators in England, the United States, and other countries closed it down. BCCI's dramatic rise and fall is documented in this book, and the cast of characters include oil-rich Arabs, a Middle Eastern terrorist (Abu Nidal), a Latin American dictator (Manuel Noriega), Columbian drug lords, Federal undercover agents et. al. Add a few key dramatic elements such as murder, drug smuggling, money laundering, CIA covert-like operations and it makes for quite a story. While failed banks and savings & loans have become common in the United States, it is still a new and terrifying phenomenon in other countries, where depositors are not insured and risk losing everything because of such corrupt banking practices. The authors present a convincing case for increased global banking regulation and oversight to prevent any future BCCI disasters. Highly recommended for public libraries and special libraries with business collections.
- Richard Drezen, Mer rill Lynch Lib., New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

The first book on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International as the depository institution of choice for drug- dealers, gun-runners, terrorists, and other lawbreakers. Despite a comparatively narrow focus, the painstakingly documented text sets a high standard for the many entries sure to follow. Adams (a former Forbes editor) and Frantz (coauthor, Selling Out, 1989, etc.) devote the bulk of their report to a successful undercover investigation mounted by the US Customs Service in southern Florida. The sting operation broke up a money-laundering ring and produced hard evidence of BCCI's illicit activities long before government agencies in seven countries closed the bank's doors last summer. The authors nonetheless make a good job of recounting how the Arab-owned, Pakistani-run bank (founded in 1972) was organized to evade oversight by any one nation's regulatory authorities. Achievement of this objective, Adams and Frantz show, gave BCCI stewards more than enough rope to hang themselves as they resorted to Ponzi schemes, pitching shady accounts with secret ledgers, and other crimes to keep pace with the demands of investors or their cronies for credit and cash. BCCI apparently did a fair amount of legitimate business as well, but audits commissioned by the Bank of England finally exposed the extent of its deficits and misconduct, making a shutdown inevitable. The authors leave little doubt that BCCI was able to suborn or use pillars of the financial and political community in its zeal to expand, typically on the basis of undeclared equity interests. The ranks of the tarnished encompass the likes of Jimmy Carter, Clark Clifford, and Bert Lance. This sorry tale is not without heroes, though, including Sidney Bailey (Virginia's commissioner of financial institutions), Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and New York City's D.A., Robert Morgenthau. The collapse of BCCI's house of marked cards seems certain to attract further editorial attention. Meanwhile, Adams and Frantz offer a primer that promises to measure up against further coverage. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (April 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067172911X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671729110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,045,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Adams gives the reader an in-depth look at BCCI's rise and fall. He looks at the bank's often shady business practices, and examines why such a worldwide institution failed so spectacularly.

This book does a great job of presenting BCCI's rise and fall. There has obviously been painstaking research done to present an accurate portrait of the situation at BCCI. The institutional corruption and disregard for ethics or banking regulations is shown time and time again. There are stories here about bank managers instructing depositors in how to defraud the system, the acceptance of deposits from dictators and drug lords, and the attempt to circumvent US banking regulators to open branches on the East Coast. It is a compelling story from not only a business standpoint, but also from a historical one.

I did not read the bit about the FBI's sting of BCCI. The part of the book I did read was well researched, albeit dry in some parts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A required piece of reading material for those seeking to venture into what has been transpiring outside of mainstream media.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
All students of finance, auditing, and law enforcement should read about the BCCI saga.

How could a bank exist for 20 years with almost entirely criminal operations under the nose of many regulators and auditors?

"Full Service Bank" is not only well researched, but is also written as a fast-paced thriller, not a boring textbook, and therefore I consider it the best account that I have read of BCCI.

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book on a great banking scandal. Possibly the greatest banking scandal in modern history. For a taste of the scope of the thing, it involved Clark Clifford, one of the great Washington fixers of all time, plus Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist, and Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the guy who brought you the UAE and a couple of billions dollars in lost money. There are law firms and accountants still working to retrieve some of this money today, more than ten years after the bank collapsed.

Most business and banking scandals are really just complicated variants of simple scheme or mistake. LTCM borrowed more than they could afford. ADM was involved in price fixing, and BCCI was basically a pyramid scheme.*/** Admittedly a huge and complex pyramid scheme, but a pyramid scheme all the same. I am constantly amazed that people think they can get away with this like this, but I guess one should never underestimate the greed and stupidity of the average person.

Tracking who did what to whom when is a complicated job in this scandal, and Adam and Frantz do a good job of keeping it all clear. This book doesn't have the great writing of an Kurt Eichenwald book, but it does keep all the facts straight.

* A pyramid scheme is where money from new suckers goes to pay the older suckers while the people who set up the scheme get mad rich.

*Enron is the exception here. You could say Enron was the result of shady accounting but that is really oversimplifying Enron's use of a pretty insane set of accounting tools and debt restructuring instruments.
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Format: Paperback
When I first purchased "A Full Service Bank: How BCCI..." I was thinking that it is a long boring book, but when I started to read it I was amazed on what BCCI actually pulled off and how they did such things. The governments and banking systems in other countries also intrigued me. "A Full Service Bank" is an exciting book that keeps the reader engaged for a long amount of time and keeps them interested. When you are done reading this novel you should feel a sense of knowledge. I suggest "A full Service Bank" to anyone interested in the banking industry or interested in a great book about scandles andn banks.
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