Abu Dhabi plans to charge BCCI officials Extradition to U.S. may be difficult

September 21, 1991|By Steve Lohr | Steve Lohr,New York Times News Service J

The government of Abu Dhabi plans to bring formal charges soon against the former chief executive and other officials of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a representative of the emirate said yesterday.

The former chief executive, Swaleh Naqvi, is a central figure in the multibillion-dollar fraud that prompted bank regulators in several countries to seize the bank July 5.

Only after investigators obtained access to Mr. Naqvi's secret files, held in Abu Dhabi since last year, did they see the full dimension of the shadowy bank's illicit conduct.

Legal experts said the charges in Abu Dhabi against Mr. Naqvi, who has been indicted in fraud and money-laundering cases in the United States, might make it more difficult for U.S. prosecutors to have him stand trial in this country. The Manhattan district attorney's office, the Justice Department and the State Department are cooperating to seek the extradition of Mr. Naqvi and Aga Hassan Abedi, the founder of BCCI, who is in Pakistan.

The United States has an extradition treaty with Pakistan. But Mr. Abedi is said to be in ill health, and some Pakistani officials have opposed sending him to the United States. Washington has no extradition agreement with Abu Dhabi.

The legal and political difficulties of extraditing the citizens of other countries are considerable. And the fact that Abu Dhabi will soon bring charges that focus on some of the same allegations being pursued by prosecutors in New York is another hurdle, said Stanley S. Arkin, a criminal defense lawyer and partner at Chadbourne & Parke.

Mr. Naqvi was one of 26 BCCI employees arrested in Abu Dhabi Sept. 8. The emirate has released six of the former bank employees with conditions and two others without conditions, said Caffey Norman, a partner at Patton, Boggs & Blow, a law firm representing Abu Dhabi.

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