comments_image Comments

Michele Bachmann's Aide Hides $10 Million Secret

Veteran political strategist Ed Rollins brought a burst of positive media coverage to Bachmann's campaign, but he continues to hide a dark secret.

Continued from previous page


But it seems more likely that Laxalt, who was one of Reagan’s closest advisers, knew exactly what Marcos meant. (Laxalt, who retired from the Senate in 1987, is now 88 years old.)

Hirschfeld also dangled hints that he possessed bank records showing where many of the Marcos accounts were located and documenting how much money went to Reagan and to other Republicans.

Yet, when I spoke with Hirschfeld years later when he was living in Charlottesville, Virginia, he refused to release any documentary evidence voluntarily.

In the mid-1990s, when Rollins’s book was published, Reagan was well on his way to becoming an untouchable political icon, honored repeatedly by the Republican-controlled Congress with his name attached to scores of federal edifices, including National Airport in Washington, D.C.

There was no appetite to revisit unresolved mysteries of the 1980s, especially ones that might put the beloved Reagan in a negative light.

To the U.S. news media, it didn’t seem to matter much that Reagan might have been taking secret payoffs from a foreign despot or that the dictator’s money might have been used to influence the outcomes of the 1980 and 1984 elections. [ was the only news outlets that provided any detailed coverage of Rollins’s limited admissions.]

BCCI Mystery

Yet, an investigation of the Marcos money might have shed light on another perplexing mystery from the 1980s: the curious relationship between the U.S. government and the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

On Jan. 22, 1981, two days after Reagan’s Inauguration and Iran’s curiously timed released of the U.S. hostages, Marcos and some of his cronies co-founded a Hong Kong bank in partnership with New York financier John Shaheen.

Shaheen was one of William Casey’s closest friends, a relationship that dated back to their days together as spies in the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services.

Called the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty, the bank was capitalized with $20 million supplied by Princess Ashraf, the Shah of Iran’s strong-willed twin sister who shared Marcos’s intense hatred of President Carter. Ashraf also had appealed to leading Republicans in 1979 to help get her brother into the United States for cancer treatment, the event that triggered the seizing of the 52 American hostages on Nov. 4, 1979.

The Hong Kong bank attracted onto its board leading BCCI figures, including Abu Dhabi’s Ghanim al-Mazrouie and Saudi diplomat Hassan Yassin, the cousin of Iran-Contra figure and Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi. At first, Middle East petrodollars flowed into the bank.

However, by 1983, Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty had been plundered by insiders. It collapsed with reported losses of more than $100 million. The money was never recovered, but Shaheen associates claimed that prior to the bank’s failure, substantial amounts were funneled to Marcos, who reportedly was pulling the strings behind the scenes.

The Hong Kong bank might have been a missing link in the intelligence mysteries of the 1980s, connecting the early Reagan-Iran deals with key BCCI players. It also could explain how Marcos was repaid for his alleged 1980 largesse and why he would be even more generous in 1984. [For details on this so-called October Surprise mystery, see Robert Parry’s  Secrecy & Privilege.]

When these facts about secret money flows surfaced in the 1990s, one might have expected that there would have been a clamor about the alleged payoffs to Reagan, especially once they were partially confirmed by Rollins. In a normal world, it would seem to make sense that Rollins be put under oath before government investigators and compelled to identify both the Filipino with the suitcase and the Republican lobbyist who supposedly received it.

See more stories tagged with: