Fugitive Awarded US Defense Contract

Barry Zorthian

Barry Zorthian

The US military has awarded an $80 million contract to a prominent Saudi financier who has been indicted by the US Justice Department. The contract to supply jet fuel to American bases in Afghanistan was awarded to the Attock Refinery Ltd, a Pakistani-based refinery owned by Gaith Pharaon. Pharaon is wanted in connection with his alleged role at the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the CenTrust savings and loan scandal, which cost US tax payers $1.7 billion.

The Saudi businessman was also named in a 2002 French parliamentary report as having links to informal money transfer networks called hawala, known to be used by traders and terrorists, including Al Qaeda. Interestingly, Pharaon was also an investor in President George W. Bush's first business venture, Arbusto Energy. A spokesman for the FBI said Pharaon was not wanted in connection with the French report, but confirmed he was still sought by the US Justice Department.

"Ghaith Pharaon is an FBI fugitive indicted in both the BCCI and CENTRUST case," said Richard Kolko, a spokesman for the FBI. "If anyone has information on his location, they are requested to contact the FBI or the US Embassy."

With a nod to full disclosure, I must admit that I once handled this fugitive's website through his New York City attorneys and Washington, DC communications consultant Barry Zorthian. The website not much more than a few early HTML pages with no fund-raising ability, and was discontinued after nearly a decade of limited activity last year.

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