Jordanian-American Graduates Committee
An authentic independent Jordanian-American organization seeks to promote
democracy and human rights in Jordan and peaceful coexistence between Israel
and its Arab neighbors
P. O. Box 22102, Alexandria, VA 22304
Telephone/Fax: (703) 370-0176
Political Statement (2)
For Immediate Release--August 10, 2003
For Further Info. Contact: Abdul Salam Hassan Al-Naser in the U.S. at (703)
The article below appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA, on Thursday,
August 7, 2003. The JAGC decided to distribute this article in its entirety
to the people of Jordan to read and analyze the valuable information,
provided by Dr. Tamara Chalabi, the daughter of Mr. Ahmed Chalabi, the
former president of the collapsed Petra Bank, and current member of the
Governing Council of Iraq (GCI). The article provides solid facts about the
despicable role of the former government of Mr. Mudar Badran in the Petra
Bank Scandal. We sincerely hope that HM King Abdullah II will conduct an
independent and full investigation on the Petra Bank Scandal and prevent
current appointed officials, such as Dr. Marwan Muasher, the Foreign Affairs
Minister, from attacking Mr. Chalabi and the GCI.
BEFORE THE WAR
The Petra Bank Scandal
Jordan slandered my father at Saddam's behest.
BY TAMARA CHALABI
Thursday, August 7, 2003 12:01 a.m.
BAGHDAD--Ahmad Chalabi, my father, is here in Iraq, sitting on the Governing
Council of Iraqi nationals that will help ours become a free country. Iraqis
from all regions and religions line up daily to meet him at his home. They
know his lifelong cause is democracy for all Iraqis, not just a chosen few.
To them he is a good man, and an attractive leader.
Yet many in the Western media seem unable to mention my father's name
without regurgitating a 14-year-old Jordanian libel that he wrongfully
diverted assets of his own Petra Bank. The real story couldn't be more
different. Petra Bank was seized and destroyed by those in the Jordanian
establishment who'd become willing to do Saddam Hussein's bidding. That
Jordan has branded my father as an "asset diverter" would be comic, were it
not for what it says about that kingdom's servile complicity with Saddam.
In 1978, Ahmad Chalabi formed Petra Bank in Amman. It prospered, growing to
be the second largest bank in Jordan. In the '80s, as a pillar of Jordan's
banking system, he fought to obstruct Saddam's ability to finance his war
with Iran, as well as his weaponsprograms. He warned about a grain-sales
inancing scheme, whereby Iraq obtained funds from the Atlanta branch of an
Italian bank to finance arms purchases. He challenged the ways in which
Jordan profited from arms sales to Iraq and angered Saddam by pressuring
Jordan's Central Bank not to issue Iraq letters of credit on Saddam's terms.
In early 1989, Petra submitted its annual financial statement to the Central
Bank, showing continuing asset growth--and nothing that would justify
singling it out for military seizure. The authorities approved the financial
accounts, just as they had in the past. Petra Bank, if left alone, would be
prospering today. Instead, here is the sequence of events:
• In April 1989, a shuffle in the Jordanian government brought to power a
group of officials with intimate ties to Saddam. On Aug. 3, 1989, out of
nowhere, they declared that my father had diverted assets of Petra Bank, so
much so that it was a risk to the nation of Jordan. Invoking a wildly
inapplicable 22-year-old martial-law decree, issued to stave off economic
crisis triggered by Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Jordan literally
attacked Petra Bank. Armed soldiers, backed by tanks, stormed its Amman
offices, then being operated by unarmed civilian bank employees.
• My father left Jordan, driving himself to Syria after being warned by a
sympathetic member of the government that the plan was to arrest him and
deliver him to Saddam. His family was told by a former U.S. diplomat that he
was smart to leave as his life was at risk.
• After leaving Jordan, he continued to speak out against Saddam, predicting
that he would invade Kuwait. Almost immediately after my father sounded this
warning, Jordan swept down again. Using Arthur Andersen's Geneva branch, it
issued a new audit that rewrote the financial condition of Petra Bank to
make it appear insolvent on the date it was seized. Assets of 476 million
Jordanian dinars ($541 million) were "revalued" downward to 297 million
dinars ($337 million). Later, the bank's liquidators reported a collection
rate of over 150% on the bulk of the devalued assets--a recovery rate that
in itself shows the revaluation was a ruse.
• The true asset picture approved just months before the takeover made this
new audit a lie. If it could have dared to challenge the authorities, the
public needed to ask but one question: Why did Jordan denounce Petra Bank in
1989, a year when the bank had met all its overseas obligations while Jordan
itself was so financially troubled that it had declared a moratorium on all
its own payments?
• Not coincidentally, the same Jordanian military that had taken over Petra
Bank took Saddam's side when he invaded Kuwait.
• The military occupation of Petra Bank was enough to destroy public
confidence in the bank. The actions of those who took over assured its ruin.
They failed to honor commitments made by the bank, accelerated business
loans that were not in default and not due, foreclosed on assets securing
those loans, and then sold the assets at bargain prices to individuals
closely tied to the Jordanian government. Employees in three countries,
including the U.S., lost their jobs, and the Chalabi family lost tens of
millions of dollars.
• In December 1991, my father went on U.S. television and described how
Jordan was helping Iraq violate sanctions on weapons procurement, producing
documents to back up his claims. He spoke of Iraq's many accounts with the
Central Bank of Jordan to finance these purchases. The head of that bank
denied this, while admitting that "mysteriously" some $55 million of Iraqi
money had shown up in his bank after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. My father
also revealed that Jordan turned that money over to Saddam, even though Iraq
owed impoverished Jordan hundreds of millions of dollars.
• A few months later, Jordan set up a State Security Court to try my father
in absentia. The court was established on April 1, 1992, met only once--on
April 8--and the next day issued a 223-page decision finding my father
guilty. If any more than this "efficiency" is needed to show that the trial
was illegitimate, consider this: The month before the trial started, the
martial law on which the court's decision was based had been abolished!
Jordan did all this for Saddam Hussein.
But things are different now. My father has demanded the records from this
military tribunal and the basis for the lengthy decision--one written,
Jordan claims, in just one day. He may well invoke a more balanced forum to
recover his losses and good name if Jordan does not make a clean break with
its quisling past and publicly declare that it has no evidence of wrongdoing
by Ahmad Chalabi.
Ms. Chalabi recently completed a Ph.D in history and Middle East studies at
Harvard. She works with her father in Iraq.
President George W. Bush, The White House
Mr. Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
Dr. Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Adviser
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General
Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum (WEF)
Members of U.S. Congress
European Union, Delegation of the European Commission to the United States
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
U.S. and Worldwide Human Rights Organizations and Political Institutions
U.S. and Jordanian Press and Media