The Gold Connection

Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast has long been a gold smugglers' haven. Shortly after Benazir Bhutto began her second term as Prime Minister in October 1993, a Dubai-based bullion trader, Abdul Razzak Yaqub, proposed that the Government begin to regulate the trade by granting him an import license. Documents obtained by The New York Times show the following sequence.

1 JAN. 5, 1994 Capricorn Trading, a company controlled by Asif Ali Zardari, Ms. Bhutto's husband, is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

2 EARLY 1994 Abdul Razzak Yaqub, a Pakistani bullion trader in Dubai, offers to help the Pakistani Government regulate the gold trade in return for a gold import license.

3 OCT. 5, 1994 An account in the name of Capricorn Trading is opened at Citibank's main branch in Dubai. In the next two weeks, Citibank documents show, Mr. Razzak's company, ARY Traders, deposits $10 million in the Capricorn account.

4 DEC. 13, 1994 The Bhutto Government awards Mr. Razzak an exclusive import license. He ships more than $500 million in gold into Pakistan over the next three years.

5 MARCH-MAY 1995 More than $18 million is transferred from the account in Dubai to another Citibank account in Geneva, also in the name of Capricorn Trading. In the following months, short-term transfers are made between the Geneva account and Citibank subsidiaries in the Channel Islands, earning tens of thousands of dollars in interest.

6 NOV. 5, 1996 Benazir Bhutto is ousted as Prime Minister. About the same time, the Geneva Citibank account, said to contain $40 million, is closed. The funds are transferred to Banque Financière de la Cité, also in Geneva.

NOVEMBER 1997 Mr. Razzak denies making payments to Mr. Zardari.

Credit: The New York Times
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