Two days following its indictment in Tampa in October, 1988
as a result of the Operation C-Chase sting, BCCI did what many
businesses in trouble do under such circumstances -- it hired a
public relations firm to help it reduce the bad publicity
surrounding the indictment. The firm selected by BCCI was,
consistent with BCCI's usual strategy, unusually well-connected
politically: Hill and Knowlton, home to Republican Robert Gray
and Democrat Frank Mankiewicz, and generally considered the most
politically prominent public relations firm in Washington.(1)
During the following two years, Hill and Knowlton provided
various services to BCCI and to its secretly-held affiliate,
On August 1, 1991, former Customs Service Commissioner
William von Raab, in testimony before the Subcommittee,
criticized the public relations firm, implicating its activities
as a factor in BCCI's success in staying open following its
indictment, and suggesting that the January, 1990 plea agreement
between BCCI and the U.S. Attorney in Tampa was "a tribute to the
influence team that was marching up and down the Eastern seaboard
helping BCCI keep its neck off the block."(3)
In response to the Von Raab testimony, Hill and Knowlton's
Vice Chairman, Frank Mankiewicz, immediately issued the following
statement on the PR Newswire, which is set forth in full:
Mr. Von Raab's testimony as to Hill and Knowlton is
incredibly irresponsible and totally false. Neither I, nor
Robert Gray, nor anyone else from Hill and Knowlton ever
contacted, on behalf of BCCI, anyone in the Department of
Justice or anywhere else in the Executive Branch, or for
that matter, on Capitol Hill.(4)
The import of Hill and Knowlton's release was that whatever
it did for BCCI, its work had not involved lobbying.
But Mankiewicz's strong statements concerning what Hill and
Knowlton did not do for BCCI failed to explain exactly what Hill
and Knowlton did do.
In fact, Hill and Knowlton had represented BCCI at a
critical time in its history, following the Tampa drug-money
laundering indictment.(5) Moreover, according to statements made
by former Hill and Knowlton partners to the press, Hill and
Knowlton partners did know BCCI was "sleazy," and at least one
partner did leave the firm in part as a result of disagreements
over the BCCI account.(6)
Moreover, Hill and Knowlton did have contact with Capitol
Hill on behalf of First American, Clark Clifford and Robert
Altman, on BCCI related matters, in the period when BCCI still
secretly-held First American, and after BCCI's ownership of First
American was a matter of public record and established fact.(7)
Finally, Hill and Knowlton did have contact with at least
one Congressional staffer, Michael Pillsbury, on behalf of BCCI
itself, in January, 1990. At that time, Senate staffer Pillsbury
wrote Karna Small at Hill and Knowlton, soliciting information
from Hill and Knowlton concerning what it was doing for BCCI, and
offering to be of assistance to BCCI in its public relations
Small's involvement provides further evidence of the fact
that Hill and Knowlton assigned politically-connected staff to
the BCCI account. Small's previous work had included being
assistant press secretary to James Brady under President Reagan,
press spokesperson for National Security Advisor Robert
McFarlane, and an assistant to the National Security Counsel
during the period in which McFarlane and Admiral John Poindexter
were in charge of the NSC.(8)
The record before the Subcommittee suggests that the
contact between Small at Hill and Knowlton and Capitol Hill was
initiated by Pillsbury, rather than Small or Hill and Knowlton.
Hence, Mankiewicz's statement was technically correct, if
incomplete, on this point.(9)
Hill and Knowlton's activities on behalf of BCCI, First
American, Clifford and Altman resulted in Hill and Knowlton
making statements that in the end proved to be materially
misleading, and attacking individuals who were making accurate,
but damaging statements about their clients. While there is no
evidence that any Hill and Knowlton partner knew that the
information it was disseminating was false, BCCI's use of Hill
and Knowlton raises questions about the role of public relations
firms in our political system.
When a public relations firm disseminates information, does
it have any independent responsibility to the public to make sure
that the information disseminated is accurate?
Are there other issues of public policy at stake when a
public relations firm that is politically well-connected, on
behalf of a client who has been indicted for illegal acts,
disseminates materials attacking and discrediting people who are
making accurate statements? Is corrective industry or legislative
** Hill and Knowlton partners knew of BCCI's reputation as a
"sleazy" bank at the time it accepted the account in October,
1988. Some of this information came from then Commissioner of
Customs William von Raab, in response to questions from a friend
who was a partner at Hill and Knowlton.
** Hill and Knowlton made contacts with Capitol Hill on
behalf of First American, and BCCI's lawyers, Clark Clifford and
Robert Altman, on issues pertaining to BCCI. Materials prepared
in part by Hill and Knowlton and provided to Capitol Hill were
provided to federal bank regulators in the spring of 1990 in an
effort to discourage those regulators from crediting allegations
in the media that BCCI secretly owned First American.
** In 1988 and 1989, Hill and Knowlton assisted BCCI with an
aggressive public relations campaign designed to demonstrate that
BCCI was not a criminal enterprise, and to put the best face
possible on the Tampa drug money laundering indictments. In so
doing, it disseminated materials discrediting persons and
publications whose statements were later proved accurate about
** Important information provided by Hill and Knowlton to Capitol Hill and provided by First American to regulators concerning the relationship between BCCI and First American in April, 1990 proved to be incorrect. The misleading material represented the position of BCCI, First American, Clifford and Altman concerning the relationship, and was contrary to facts known by BCCI, Clifford and Altman. There is no evidence that Hill and Knowlton partners knew the information to be inaccurate, or reason to believe that their clients' account was correct.
On October 10, 1988, BCCI was indicted in Tampa on drug money laundering, sparking an immediate need by BCCI to respond by every means possible. As Abdur Sakhia, one of BCCI's senior officers in the United States, recommended Hill and Knowlton.
I started the Hill and Knowlton connection. The day we were
indicted we were inundated by everyone. I said we have to
tell our side of the story. I am not capable of telling it.
You need to have a PR firm to handle this. To me, BCCI's
problems here were like Johnson and Johnson's Tylenol
crisis, or the indictment of Drexel for insider trading.(10)
Hill and Knowlton had been purchased by a London advertising
and public relations conglomerate, the WPP group and now had
offices in London. A British BCCI director, John Hilbery, who
lived in London, had contacts there, and BCCI's main offices in
London hired the firm, at a rate of $50,000 per month.
At the outset of the retention of Hill and Knowlton by BCCI,
some Hill and Knowlton partners in Washington expressed concern
about the account.
As former Commissioner Von Raab testified:
I was in my office when a friend of mine from Hill &
Knowlton came to me and he said, Willie, he said, BCCI wants
to hire Hill & Knowlton and they want me to work on it.
And he said, what should I do? And I said, don't work on it,
it is a sleazy operation. Well, the result was, Bob Gray and
Frank Mankiewicz worked on it. My friend left Hill &
Before the month of October was over, Hill and Knowlton had
deployed a team of six of its public relations professionals in
New York, Tampa, and Washington, D.C., as well as 16 additional
Hill and Knowlton staff in ten other countries. The firm's
initial work included such standard public relations tasks as
handling BCCI's press strategy, developing various BCCI
officials as press spokesmen, creating a public relations history
of BCCI and a public relations position paper to be used to rebut
the Florida indictments, and developing a recommended advertising
campaign for BCCI in major newspapers around the world.(12)
Hill and Knowlton documents found by the Subcommittee at
BCCI's document repository in Florida describe this work in some
A document evidently generated by Hill and Knowlton in
London in October, 1988, entitled, "BCCI Worldwide Action
Program," carried recommendations for generating positive press
for BCCI through interviews between BCCI officials trained by
Hill and Knowlton on what to say with influential journalists
such as Lou Dobbs at CNN, Louis Rukeyser at PBS, and James
Stewart of the Wall Street Journal.
A second Hill and Knowlton document dated October 27, 1988,
described as "Background on the Tampa Indictments And BCC
Position on Compliance," described the approach to be taken by
BCCI officers in these interviews:
Management of BCCI was surprised and shocked to learn in
news reports that the bank and nine of its employees had
been indicted in Tampa, Florida on charges of laundering
drug money. The bank had no warning that it or any of its
people were under investigation, nor is its management aware
that any employee anywhere had violated long-standing bank
policies to do business in a manner fully consistent with
the laws and regulations of every jurisdiction in which it
The specific facts of the charges are not known to BCCI at
this time; the bank has, however, reaffirmed its commitment
to legal integrity and pledged to cooperate with all legal
authorities in the resolution of these troubling
developments. BCC has taken the further step of launching an
extensive internal review under the direction of a special
committee of outside directors to review the allegations.(13)
Senior BCCI officials to whom the document was being
distributed knew at the time that many of these statements were
inaccurate. Even mid-level BCCI officials knew that some of these
statements were inaccurate. For example, according to BCCI
officers such as Amjad Awan and Akbar Bilgrami, both convicted of
money laundering, BCCI had never, even on paper, created a
package of "long-standing bank policies" against committing any
kind of criminal act, let again directed against laundering
Creating an anti money-laundering policy after the fact was one of the urgent tasks management was about to engage in as part of BCCI's damage control operation. BCCI official Akbar Bilgrami was in this period told to write a memorandum concerning a meeting which he had not attended in which BCCI had supposedly reiterated its policies against money laundering with BCCI's banking staff in Miami. According to Bilgrami, he declined the request to write the memorandum for two reasons. First, its substance was misleading. Second, he felt ridiculous trying to write an account of an event at which he was not even present.(15) Bilgrami made clear his understanding that the notion that BCCI had an anti-money laundering policy in place prior to his indictment was absurd.(16)
The backgrounder on BCCI prepared by Hill and Knowlton at
the time for use with the press stressed BCCI's total
institutional commitment to conservative and ethical practices:
BCC draws upon Eastern traditions of trust, confidentiality,
hospitality and cordiality in business dealings. The bank
has an unusually egalitarian management structure with many
functional, as opposed to ceremonial, titles for managers
. . .It stresses conservativism, prudence and liquidity in
its deposit taking and lending activities. . . Although it
has never publicized the fact, BCC is a major participating
in recognized charitable and philanthropic programs around
the world . . . The BCC Group as a matter of corporate
policy adheres strictly to the rules and regulations of all
countries in which it does business . . . Financial
transactions of the bank are subject to four levels of
review by regional auditors, by central auditors, external
auditors (Price Waterhouse is the bank's outside audit firm)
and by the auditors of various state banking authorities.(17)
The truth, of course, was at the time the words were written,
BCCI's top officials had engaged in massive fraud for over a
decade and was billions of dollars in the hole, and had survived,
to date, through phony bookkeeping designed to hide practices
that were neither conservative nor prudent. The material created
by Hill and Knowlton was thus unrelated to the facts, and merely
an articulated form of what BCCI wanted the world to believe.
On October 21, 1988, Hill and Knowlton released a press
statement on BCCI's behalf stating that "BCCI has never knowingly
violated the laws of any country," and "would not countenance any
such violation or activity." At that time, BCCI had been cited
for regulatory violations in numerous countries around the world,
despite its practice -- well-known within BCCI -- of bribing
public officials around the world in an effort to limit the
number of citations for such violations.(18)
In November and December, 1988, Hill and Knowlton
coordinated briefings of BCCI employees on how to handle
themselves as press representatives, including "media training"
classes, and a seminar by BCCI's lawyers to BCCI employees to
discuss the implications of the Tampa indictments for the bank
and for unindicted bank officials.
On December 8, 1988, Hill and Knowlton registered with the
Justice Department as a foreign agent for BCCI in preparation for
engaging in lobbying efforts on behalf of BCCI in Washington.
In December, 1988, the Subcommittee deposed a former BCCI official, Aziz Rehman, who testified under oath that BCCI had engaged in wrongdoing beyond the actions for which BCCI was indicted in Tampa. According to Rehman these included maintaining a "Nassau" branch of BCCI in Miami at a time that the bank did not have an office in Nassau, and which it was using to assist clients in tax evasion. According to Rehman, customers were able to make deposits in the Nassau branch in Miami which earned interest "outside" the United States, were not reported by BCCI to the IRS, and thus permitting the customer to evade paying
taxes. Rehman's statements were later supported by two other BCCI
officers, Akbar Bilgrami and Amjad Awan, in statements to the
Subcommittee, as well as by BCCI records stored in Miami.
In a press release from Hill and Knowlton in New York, BCCI
defended itself by attacking Rehman and calling his charges,
which were accurate, wild lies. The December 22, 1988 press
release, issued on Hill and Knowlton New York letterhead, with
two Hill and Knowlton account executives listed as press contacts
The allegations made about the Bank of Credit and Commerce
International S.A. by Mr. Aziz Rehman before hearings of the
U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and
International Communications [sic] in October, 1988 [sic]
have absolutely no basis in fact.
Mr. Rehman was fired from BCCI in 1984. Whether this
influenced his sworn Senate testimony in any way we do not
know. At no time has BCCI operated any "fictitious" branches
in the Bahamas or elsewhere. Nor has the Bank chartered
aircraft to transport cash illegally.
Mr. Rehman's statements are fantastic and erroneous
interpretations of routine and legitimate banking
The activities described by Rehman were neither routine nor
legitimate; his statements neither fantastic nor erroneous.
Rehman's statements were even possibly verifiable at the time
they were made. Numerous BCCI employees in Miami knew that Rehman
was telling the truth, and that BCCI had maintained its Nassau
books in Miami at a desk labelled "Nassau" opposite a desk that
handled Miami's transactions. As BCCI officials interviewed by
the Subcommittee acknowledged, the Nassau account of BCCI was for
years nothing more than a separate set of books kept in BCCI's
Miami office and labelled "Nassau."(20)
As these officials later told the Subcommittee in confirming
Rehman's account, the Nassau branch of BCCI in Miami was used by
BCCI clients for the purpose of shielding assets from U.S.
taxation. The Nassau branch was established in Miami at a time
when BCCI had no operation in Nassau -- even a post office box.
Officers at the "Nassau" branch of BCCI sat across the table at
BCCI's office in Miami from the "Miami" branch of BCCI in Miami,
so that customers of BCCI could "shift" funds from the on-shore
branch of BCCI to the off-shore branch. Moreover, since BCCI, as
a foreign bank outside of the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC) system, could not accept deposits from U.S.
citizens in the United States, its "Nassau" branch was used to
allow U.S. citizens to make deposits "offshore."(21)
There is no indication in BCCI records that any independent
fact-checking was done by the firm. Apart from blind acceptance
of whatever BCCI told them, Hill and Knowlton also had no reason
to believe that Rehman's statements were either true or false.
The public relations firm did nothing more, and nothing less,
then peddle BCCI's position without regard to the damage to the
reputation of the person its client hired it to disparage.
In May, 1990, Regardie's Magazine published a cover story concerning the relationship between BCCI and First American by financial journalist Larry Gurwin. The story was entitled, "Who Really Owns First American Bank?" It provided detailed information concerning that issue, suggesting that one very possible answer was BCCI. The article also contained a comprehensive and detailed history of BCCI's takeover of Financial General Bankshares, BCCI's previous run-ins with regulators and law enforcement, the role played in First American and in BCCI by Clark Clifford and Robert Altman, and questions concerning BCCI's shareholders. The Gurwin article in Regardie's made available in public significant material concerning these issues not previously known. As a consequence, it has been justifiably credited by many as substantially advancing knowledge of BCCI's activities in the United States, and helping prompt the investigative work that led to the unravelling of BCCI's ownership of First American.
When the Regardie's article appeared, on behalf of "First
American," Hill and Knowlton created a "Fact Sheet" on the
article which consisted of an attack on the story, the magazine
itself, and the reporter who wrote it. The "Fact Sheet" was not
released generally to the press, but to specific persons who
might have a special interest in whether the article was true --
people like the chairman of the Subcommittee, Senator Kerry, and
the Comptroller of the Currency, Robert L. Clarke, each of whom
received a seven page fact sheet rebutting the allegations in
Regardies in late April, 1990. The "Fact Sheet" was provided to
Senator Kerry by Mankiewicz, in his capacity as Vice Chairman of
Hill and Knowlton.
The Hill and Knowlton "Fact Sheet" began with the following
assessment of the Regardie's article:
The May 1990 issue of Regardie's magazine carries a cover
story on First American Bankshares which is full of
inaccuracies and outright falsehoods, utilizing a
sensationalist approach to yesterday's news. It has been
published with the clear intent of denigrating and injuring
the company, its officers, and directors, and its
shareholders. With glaring bias and distortion, Regardie's
fails to report fairly the story of First American. . .(22)
According to the Hill and Knowlton release, the Regardie's
article consisted of a:
rehash of stale allegations and charges . . . rejected by
the Federal Reserve and other regulators . . . seeks to
prove First American may somehow be controlled by the Bank
of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).(23)
Hill and Knowlton then made the following representations of
fact concerning the relationship between BCCI and First American,
which proved to be untrue:
** BCCI's management is not involved in any respect in the
policy or affairs of First American, a point that is easily
** BCCI has never owned any stock in First American.
** First American is not controlled by BCCI in any sense and
all dealings between the two institutions (which have
actually been quite limited) have been proper and on an
Again, Hill and Knowlton had no particular knowledge of the
true state of affairs. It acted merely as a conduit for the
position of its clients. That position, however, was misleading
Hill and Knowlton then made the following representations of
fact concerning the use of First American by General Manuel
First American has never had any banking relationship of any
kind with Manuel Noriega, nor has it ever knowingly handled
any funds of Manuel Noriega . . . Nor is there any
indication in First American's bank documents [that] any
deposit contained funds belonging to Manuel Noriega.(25)
In fact, dozens of documents at First American's offices in Washington showed, quite clearly, the handling of Noriega assets by First American through the bank account maintained by BCCI at First American in Washington. Thus, Hill and Knowlton's client, First American, or its officers, were again providing untrue information to the PR firm on this point, which the firm in turn was disseminating on First American's behalf.
The "Fact Sheet" distributed by Hill and Knowlton made
similarly erroneous statements concerning the relationship
between Clifford and Altman and BCCI.(26)
Once again, there is no evidence to demonstrate that Hill
and Knowlton had conducted any independent investigation of the
facts that they were distributing.
To the contrary, their presentation was identical with the
position that was being taken then and to this day, by BCCI,
Clifford and Altman concerning these issues. Untrue statements by
BCCI, Clifford and Altman concerning these issues are among the
central matters on which each has been indicted by law
enforcement and cited by regulators.
Once again, Hill and Knowlton acted merely as a conduit for
the version of events being promoted by their clients. Once
again, the materials it disseminated contained numerous
statements that proved to be false. Once again, its attacks --
this time on investigative reporter Larry Gurwin and on
Regardie's magazine by Hill and Knowlton in its capacity as
public relations firm for First American, Clifford and Altman --
served to discredit people who were telling the truth.
In May, 1991, Hill and Knowlton disseminated another
memorandum pertaining to First American and BCCI. This memorandum
was written in response to a May 5, 1991 article in the
Washington Post concerning Clifford and Altman's purchase of
stock in First American through secret lending from BCCI.
A cover page to the Memorandum written by Frank Mankiewicz
stated the following:
I would like to stress a few points:
- The fundamental contention of the Washington Post
story of May 5, indeed its lead sentence - is untrue,
and worse, never supported in the article. The Post
says regulators were told "that BCCI would have no
financial relationship with First American and its
senior management." No such statement was ever made. In
fact, First American was free to have financial
dealings with BCCI on an arms-length basis - as it did
with many banks - and audits have confirmed that no
impropriety occurred. As to financial dealings with
senior management, I have no idea what representation
or discussion the Post is talking about.
- These investments were not secretive ownership;
rather, the Directors had full knowledge of both the
purchases, and approved them. They were also encouraged
by shareholders, and the ownership was timely reported
to regulators, as required.
- The loan from BCCI was made with the advice of New
York counsel . . . none, then or now, believes the loan
contravened any commitment to the Federal Reserve
. . .(27)
Mankiewicz then enclosed a memorandum, on Hill and Knowlton
stationery, which further stated that "there was no reason at the
time of these transactions for any one to consider the role
played by BCCI [in lending funds to Clifford and Altman] to be
remarkable or inappropriate."(28)
The positions taken, identical to those taken by Clifford
and Altman, were at best, gross simplifications and distortions
of the truth, as the public record at the time, available to Hill
and Knowlton, demonstrated. Specific representations had indeed
been made to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that
BCCI would not be involved in any aspect of financing First
American's ownership either at the time of the FGB takeover, or
later. These representations were part of the record on which the
Federal Reserve agreed to permit the takeover of First American
by the group linked with BCCI. While Clifford and Altman's
ownership of BCCI stock had been disclosed to and approved by
First American directors, their loans from BCCI had not. While
Clifford and Altman's ownership of BCCI stock had been disclosed
to regulators, their loans from BCCI had not. Clifford and
Altman's personal attorneys may not have believed the loans
contravened any commitment to the Federal Reserve. But that has
not been the position of the regulators themselves. Indeed, the
Federal Reserve has formally charged Clifford and Altman with
conflict of interest, breach of fiduciary duty, and other
violations of their statutory responsibilities in connection with
these very transactions. In fact, the Federal Reserve has viewed
these transactions to be sufficiently improper to justify banning
Clifford and Altman from banking for life.(29)
Again, there is no evidence to demonstrate that Hill and
Knowlton had conducted any independent investigation of the facts
that they were distributing. The firm acted as a conduit for a
position, which contained numerous statements that proved to be
misleading at best.
According to press accounts, some Hill and Knowlton
executives from the beginning raised ethical questions concerning
the firm's representation of BCCI and refused to work on the
account -- suggesting that sufficient information had always been
available to Hill and Knowlton to reject the account on the
ground that BCCI had in fact engaged in sleazy practices, and
that if Hill and Knowlton accepted BCCI's account, it might end
According to an August 17, 1991 account in the National Journal, in October, 1988, Lawrence J. Brady, an ex-senior vice president in Hill and Knowlton's Washington office and two other Hill and Knowlton executives had told Mankiewicz in a conversation involving all four officials that BCCI was, to use Brady's word, a "sleazy" bank, after Brady discussed the possible representation with Von Raab. The National Journal article quoted another former Hill and Knowlton official as saying "the smell test was used, and [BCCI] did not seem to pass the muster."(31)
Regardless of such concerns, Hill and Knowlton kept the
account for 18 months, and represented BCCI's secretly-held U.S.
subsidiary, First American, another 15 months beyond that, until
Clifford and Altman's resignation in August 1991.
What is the responsibility, if any, of a public relations
firm to ensure that it does not assist clients in misleading the
public, the Congress, or the Executive Branch, through the
dissemination of false information?
The baseline standard is one defined by the Code of
Professional Standards of the Public Relations Society of
America, which states that "a member shall adhere to the highest
standards of accuracy and truth" and "shall not knowingly
disseminate false or misleading information."
In the case of Hill and Knowlton, BCCI, and First American,
there is no evidence that Hill and Knowlton executives actually
knew that the specific information they were disseminating was
false. But there were obvious warning signs present from the
beginning that served as cautions to some Hill and Knowlton
partners, who did not want the firm to keep the account because
of these warnings. These warnings initially consisted of a
lengthy number of press accounts detailing BCCI's past bad
behavior; the various filings made with regulators by various
parties in connection with the FGB litigation; the Operation C-Chase drug money laundering indictment in Tampa itself. In
December, 1988, they also included the Aziz Rehman deposition
before the Subcommittee; the information provided Hill and
Knowlton executives who refused to work on the account by Customs
Commissioner Von Raab and others. By 1990, they included serious
allegations being raised by the press in 1990.
Hill and Knowlton's representation of BCCI was not an unusual event. Institutions charged with wrongdoing hire public relations help all the time to ensure that their side of the story is told.
The result in the case of BCCI was that Hill and Knowlton
ended up providing information to the Congress and to the press
and public that was not merely misleading or distorted, but
actually false. Hill and Knowlton assisted in discrediting people
who were providing accurate information about the underlying
situation, including a former BCCI officer, an investigative
journalist and his publisher. Given Hill and Knowlton's close
ties to both political parties, and its influence in Washington,
this was especially unfortunate. Hill and Knowlton did not
violate any laws. It may not have violated any of the standards
of the public relations industry. But its actions raise questions
concerning an apparent conflict in this case between the role
played by Hill and Knowlton as BCCI's public relations firm, and
the public interest.
As former Commissioner Von Raab testified concerning this
So, it should not happen . . . [but] it happens all the
time. It should not happen and maybe the BCCI case will be
the example that will cause someone to change this influence
peddling culture, to try to ask some reasonable questions of
the integrity of the people that they are going to be
The public relations industry needs to consider whether
additional internal standards may be appropriate to discourage
the kind of representation provided BCCI by Hill and Knowlton.
Such standards, could, at a minimum, require firms to conduct due
diligence before agreeing to represent a client on any matter,
backed up by the possibility of some form of sanction for gross
violations of the standard.
SENATOR BROWN'S VIEW:
Clearly, Hill and Knowlton's representation of BCCI during
the Chairman's investigaiton increased the pressure to cease the
Subcommittee's efforts to make public the bank's nefarious
methods. As the report itself concedes, no laws were violated. No
ethical standards were breached. Neither my office nor my staff
were approached or lobbied by Hill and Knowlton on this subject,
nor felt that Hill and Knowlton went beyond their ethical mandate
as they presented BCCI's "side of the story" to the public. The
experience of Senator Kerry and his staff was quite different.
Our comments in this section are especially critical of Hill and
Knowlton, and should be evaluated in light of these facts.
1. See lengthy descriptions of Hill and Knowlton's political contacts in The Power House, Robert Keith Gray and the Selling of Access and Influence in Washington, Susan B. Trento, St. Martin's Press, 1992. The book also contains interviews with former Hill and Knowlton executives concerning the discussions within Hill and Knowlton about the BCCI account.
2. Subcommittee documents on Hill and Knowlton stationery obtained from BCCI New York and BCCI Miami; letters and memoranda from Frank Mankiewicz to Senator Kerry on behalf of First American; See Hill and Knowlton's "BCCI Worldwide Action Program" memorandum, October, 1988.
3. S. Hrg. 102-350 PT. 1 p. 51.
4. Hill and Knowlton press release to PR Newswire, August 1, 1991, "To National and Business Editors."
5. Documents on Hill and Knowlton stationery concerning representation of BCCI, October-December, 1988; BCCI internal memoranda concerning Hill and Knowlton, October, 1988-January, 1990; BCCI lawyers notes produced by Raymond Banoun to Subcommittee on September 3, 1992 concerning Hill and Knowlton; correspondence, Michael Pillsbury to Hill and Knowlton, January, 1990.
6. See chapter on BCCI in The Power House, Trento, id.
7. See letter and memorandum from Frank Mankiewicz to Senator John Kerry, May 6, 1991.
8. Numerous press accounts chronicle Small's career. See e.g. UPI, October 15, 1985, Washington Post, November 5, 1985, and some 165 other citations in Nexis database prior to 1991.
9. Letter, Michael Pillsbury, on Senate stationery, to Karna Small, Hill and Knowlton, January 11, 1990, regarding Hill and Knowlton's media strategy for BCCI.
10. Staff interview, Abdur Sakhia, October 7, 1991.
11. Id. p. 52.
12. Neither Frank Mankiewicz nor Robert Gray were among the team of Hill and Knowlton professionals hired by BCCI in this period, nor do any documents in the possession of the Subcommittee show them to have worked on BCCI matters at all. Mankiewicz, however, along with others at Hill and Knowlton, did provide assistance to First American on the charges that it was secretly owned by BCCI, after the handling of the Hill and Knowlton retention by BCCI in the U.S. was switched from BCCI-London to Clifford and Altman in the spring of 1989.
13. Draft Appendix A to White Paper, October 27, 1988, Hill and Knowlton.
14. Staff interviews, July, 1992, Amjad Awan and Akbar Bilgrami. BCCI Miami documents provide ample evidence for the proposition that money laundering at BCCI was systematic, as do the various indictments of BCCI by federal and local U.S. law enforcement. See indictment, U.S. v. Awan, BCCI et al, Middle District of Florida, 1988, 88-330-Cr.-T-13(B), "BCCI . . . would and did formulate and implement a corporate strategy for increasing BCCI's deposits by encouraging placements of funds from whatever sources, specifically including "flight capital," "black market capital," and the proceeds of drug sales, in conscious disregard of the currency regulations, tax laws and anti-drug laws of the United States and of other nations. Paragraph 7.
15. Staff interview, Bilgrami, July 20-29, 1992.
16. Bilgrami, staff interviews, July 20-28, 1992.
17. October 26, 1988, Hill and Knowlton, "Background: The Bank of Credit and Commerce."
18. Among the foreign countries which had cited BCCI for various infractions prior to Hill and Knowlton's representation of BCCI were France, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan, as reported in press accounts available to Hill and Knowlton on the Lexis database. See Reuters, November 11, 1987. As BCCI officer Abdur Sakhia testified before the Subcommittee, "BCCI officers were indicted and jailed in other countries, like Sudan, Kenya, India, and in each case there was a terror in the bank that, you know, this has happened, that has happened. And somehow then some deal would be struck. People would be freed, BCCI would start doing business all over again." S. Hrg. 102-350 Pt. 2.
19. News Release, Hill and Knowlton, For: Bank of Credit and Commerce International, December 22, 1988.
20. Staff interviews, Amjad Awan and Akbar Bilgrami, July, 1992.
21. Staff interviews, Akbar Bilgrami, July 20-28, 1992; see also staff interviews with Nazir Chinoy, March 9, 1992.
22. "FACT SHEET," Re: Regardie's Article, provided to Senator John Kerry on April 30, 1990 by Hill and Knowlton.
27. Memorandum, From Frank Mankiewicz, Hill and Knowlton, May 6, 1991.
29. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, Summary of Charges, In the matter of Clifford, July 29, 1992.
30. A lengthy treatment of this question is contained in The Power House by Susan Trento, id. The book describes meetings about BCCI by Hill and Knowlton executives who wanted the firm to reject the account as a consequence of its poor reputation, but were rebuffed by firm management.
31. National Journal, August 17, 1991, "BCCI Passed PR Firm's Smell Test."
32. S. Hrg. 102-350 Pt. 1 p. 52.