A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 07, 2013
Bank of Crooks and Criminals International (Bank of Credit and Commerce International nickname)

The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was founded in 1972 and was raided by government authorities in July 1991. BCCI’s world-famous nickname in 1991 was “Bank of Crooks and Criminal International” because of the money laundering charges against the bank. However, the nickname predates the 1991 official investigations and charges.

A 2004 book (see below) states that “BCCI was widely referred to, in the City of London, by financial professionals as the ‘Bank of Crooks and Criminals International’, well before it failed.” The digital archives of The Guardian, however, show this nickname from only July 16, 1991.

There is some evidence that the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals Interrnational” nickname originated in the United States. CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates did a report on BCCI in 1988 and told U.S. Customs chief William von Raab about the nickname at that time. Gates later testified before Congress that the nickname had been known among Gates’ colleagues, the agency and intelligence services.


Wikipedia: Bank of Credit and Commerce International
The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a major international bank founded in 1972 by Agha Hasan Abedi, a Pakistani financier. The Bank was registered in Luxembourg with head offices in Karachi and London. Within a decade BCCI touched its peak. It operated in 78 countries, had over 400 branches, and had assets in excess of US$20 billion, making it the 7th largest private bank in the world by assets.

BCCI came under the scrutiny of numerous financial regulators and intelligence agencies in the 1980s due to concerns that it was poorly regulated. Subsequent investigations revealed that it was involved in massive money laundering and other financial crimes, and illegally gained controlling interest in a major American bank. BCCI became the focus of a massive regulatory battle in 1991 and on July 5 of that year customs and bank regulators in seven countries raided and locked down records of its branch offices.

Investigators in the U.S. and the UK revealed that BCCI had been “set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs were extraordinarily complex. Its officers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection.”

New York (NY) Times
Essay; Breaking the Underworld Bank
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: July 11, 1991
The most lucrative bank heist in history ($5 billion and counting) has taken place over the past decade in front of the eyes of an anesthetized or slow-footed gaggle of lawmen and bank regulators.

B.C.C.I.—the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known widely as “the Bank of Crooks and Criminals International”—has belatedly had its barn doors slammed around the world, after providing gangsters and banksters a means of financing global drug operations and laundering its profits.

Google Books
Time magazine
Volumes 137-138
1991
Pg. ?:
The scandal may further jeopardize President Bush’s nomination of Robert Gates to head the CIA. Last week former Customs commissioner William von Raab named Gates, then deputy director of the CIA, as the source of a five- or six-page 1988 agency report on B.C.C.I., which Gates labeled “the bank of crooks and criminals.”

OCLC WorldCat record
The Bank of crooks and criminals
Author: Rory O’Connor; Will Lyman; WGBH Educational Foundation.; PBS Video.; Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Publisher: Alexandria, Va. : PBS Video, ©1992.
Series: Frontline.
Edition/Format: VHS video : VHS tape Visual material : English
Summary:
Reveals the global banking scandal of BCCI, the largest international bank, including: theft, bribery and fraud.

Google Books
Nest of Vipers
By Linda Davies
New York, NY: Doubleday
1995
Pg. 48:
BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, otherwise known in the City as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals International, had been particularly embarrassing for the Bank of England. It had been the center of the biggest fraud in banking history, and the Bank of England, as chief regulator, had come under direct attack in the Bingham report for its handling of the multi-billion-dollar fraud and the eventual shutdown of the bank.

Google Books
he Bank Analyst’s Handbook:
Money, Risk and Conjuring Tricks

By Stephen M. Frost
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
2004
Pg. 73:
BCCI was widely referred to, in the City of London, by financial professionals as the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International”, well before it failed. But, many of its predominantly Asian depositors were unaware of its reputation or the risks they were taking and they all lost almost all of their deposits in the aftermath of its failure.

OCLC WorldCat record
A banker for all seasons : bank of crooks and cheats incorporated
Author: Tariq Ali
Publisher: London ; New York : Seagull, 2008.
Edition/Format: Book : Drama : English
Summary:
On the rise and fall of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

Google Books
Defrauding America, Vol. One
By Rodney Stich
Alamo, CA: Silverpeak Enterprises
2008
Pg. 371:
CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates reportedly stated in 1988 to the head of Customs, William von Raab, that BCCI stood for the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.” Yet, the CIA continued to deposit and launder funds in BCCI, covering up the criminal activities that would defraud people all over the world who had put their money into the bank.

Google Books
Murder by Madness 9/11:
The Government & the Goon Squad

By Rachel Verdon
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
2012
Pg. 184:
According to Senator John Kerry’s investigation “The BCCI Affair” of 1992, the CIA was deeply involved with the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International,” sponsoring the Iran Contra Affair arms sales, Afghan’s Mujahedeen and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network demanding a separate chapter to fully investigate: ...

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Monday, January 07, 2013 • Permalink