Financial genius: Agha Hasan Abedi

Agha Hasan Abedi

Financial genius

Agha Hasan Abedi was a financial
genius who was born in 1922 to a Shiite Muslim family in Lucknow, British India, and migrated to Pakistan after the country’s independence in 1947. Lucknow
University awarded him a master’s degree in English Literature and a law
degree. Lucknow was once the epicenter of Muslim culture on the subcontinent and the
seat of the decadent Mughul Empire. Old Lucknow was a kaleidoscope of color and
palace intrigue. Exquisite literature in Urdu, a language developed from the
mating of native Hindi with the Persian of the Muslim invaders, flourished
among its spacious gardens, perfumed woods, and mosques. As the Mughul monarch
in Delhi began to lose his force, his local agent, the Nawab, Vizir,
established the Kingdom of Oudh.


The British arrived at Lucknow in
force, with a six-mile-long military post nearby. The city’s magnificent
architecture served as a backdrop to one of the great dramas of the Indian
mutiny of 1857. In the enormous residency, Muslim militants besieged 3,000
British servicemen and their families. Only 1,000 British soldiers survived after
eighty-seven days when they were ultimately rescued by fresh troops. The
residency’s remains are still standing in a downtown park, a reminder to what
the British call a massacre and the Third World hails as the first great
rebellion against Western hegemony. This was the environment that formed young
Abedi, the budding financial genius, an atmosphere of culture and romance
rather than commerce. “Lucknow is a city of poets, painters, and Nawabs, not of
businessmen,” a subsequent colleague of Abedi explained. Another friend
commented that Abedi’s Lucknavi Muslim origin was responsible for “his appreciation
for perfume, gourmet cuisine, good attire, art, and the color white, for its

Abedi was influenced even more
directly by another Lucknavi tradition. The rulers of the city had been
serviced by tulekdars, who were famed for their generosity and love of power.
Abedi’s family had served the rajas as administrators and managers from the
middle of the nineteenth century, preserving the relics of this system of
service and patronage. Abedi’s father worked as an estate manager for the Raja of Mahmoodabad, a princely Muslim family from Lucknow. Abedi was able to attend
prestigious Indian schools and the University of Lucknow because of raja’s
support. Because the Abedis were Muslims in a country administered by the
British and dominated internally by Hindus, such help was required. In British
India, many Muslims were confined to lowly employment, and just a few rose to
positions of prominence. Early in his youth, Abedi learned a lesson that would
serve him well throughout his career: courting wealthier, more powerful people
has its benefits. Abedi was an excellent student, according to all accounts,
and he graduated from Lucknow University with a law degree. He had a lesser
social status than Indians who had received their education in England or
Europe because he had attended a public university. He was an outsider on top
of that because he was Muslim in a Hindu-dominated society. Rather than
pursuing a legal career, the young graduate chose to pursue a career in
banking. As a result, in 1946, he traveled to Bombay, British India’s
financial capital. He got an entry-level job at the newly created Habib Bank

Start of career and subsequent achievements

began his career in 1946 with Habib Bank before Pakistan’s independence, and
when he formed the United Bank Ltd (UBL) in Karachi in 1959, he made
substantial improvements in Pakistan’s banking culture. He was the
organization’s founder and first president. UBL grew to become Pakistan’s
second largest bank under his leadership. Abedi introduced commerce and
industry to the notion of customized service and financial support, with a
focus on the bank’s international operations. Abedi was one of the first to
recognise the prospects presented by the Persian Gulf oil boom, and he
pioneered strong economic partnership between Pakistan and the United Arab
Emirates in the private sector (UAE). Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the
President of the United Arab Emirates, has endorsed UBL’s efforts in Pakistan
and overseas.

Abedi formed the Bank
of Credit and Commerce International with the Bank of America NT & SA as a
key shareholder after banking was nationalized in Pakistan in 1972. The BCCI
commenced operations from a two-room head office in London, which was
registered in Luxembourg. It grew into a global banking organization with 72
branches and 16,000 workers in 72 countries. Abedi was personally responsible
for attracting a large number of Pakistanis to the field of international
banking, with Pakistanis holding nearly 80% of the top executive positions at
the BCCI’s head office and branches in various countries. “It was created
by the charismatic Agha Hasan Abedi in 1972, funded by Middle Eastern
financiers and operated primarily by South Asians.” Abedi left BCCI in
1990 after having a heart attack and went to Karachi, where he died of heart failure
in 1995 at the Aga Khan hospital.

Abedi was facing
criminal charges in a number of countries for crimes relating to BCCI at the
time of his death. Pakistani officials, on the other hand, refused to hand him
up for extradition, arguing that the charges were politically motivated. Aside
from that, he was most likely too unwell to stand trial. Since a stroke in the
mid-1980s, he had been in terrible health.


Agha Hasan Abedi, a
visionary financial genius, launched philanthropic organizations in the United
Kingdom, India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan. The Infaq Foundation is
based in Karachi, Pakistan, and has only one office. It has approximately Rs.
2.50 billion in capital and reserves, which is just over US$30 million in 2009.
Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, National Institute ofCardiovascular Diseases, Lady Dufferin Hospital, and Sir Syed University of
Engineering and Technology in Karachi, and Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of
Engineering Sciences and Technology in Topi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, are
among the known institutions that have benefited. From 1983 through 1995,
Ghulam Ishaq Khan served as the Foundation’s first Chairman.

Agha Hasan Abedi as a philanthropist

Various Chief
Executives have overseen the Foundation’s operations. The Foundation’s
Secretaries-General were retired government secretaries from 1981 to 1999.
Sohail Kizilbash, a Chartered Accountant educated in the United Kingdom with
extensive banking expertise, held the position from 1999 to 2008. Anwar
Gillani, a Chartered Accountant, and former banker has been the Honorary
Secretary General since 2009. Mr. Abedi also established BCCI FAST in 1980 with
a Rs. 100 million gift to boost computer science education. The National
Institution of Computer and Emerging Sciences is now Pakistan’s first
multi-campus university. Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, and Faisalabad
are among its five campuses. Mr. Abedi also founded the Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI). He believes that Pakistan
should establish a new institution for higher education in engineering and
sciences at the doctoral level, which would be comparable to universities in
any industrialised country.

Abedi was Hasan Abedi’s wife. Maha, the couple’s daughter, was born to them.
Abedi was a well-known Muslim mystic despite being born into a Shia Muslim
family. He would spend hours discussing his mystical views during his talks at
BCCI Bank meetings. BCCI, he claimed, was not simply a bank, but a god-given
entity with direct access to the universe.

BCCI a Brainchild of Financial Genius

International media termed him as a “financial genius”, a slight glimpse of his genius can be understood
by reading the following paragraphs. 
By the late 1980s, the BCCI group
had exploded into a $50 billion behemoth, with $25 billion in its own books and
another $25 billion in the accounts of its sister firms, including the First
American Bank, the National Bank of Georgia, and the Saudi Arabian Independence
Bank. It had offices in more than 90 countries across all five continents. This
expanding banking association was controlled and run by third-world countries,
the bulk of which were Muslim. Agha Hasan Abedi, the BCCI’s generous, astute,
and foresighted President, founded the bank with the intention of using it as a
bridge between the developed Western World and the Third World by reallocating
economic resources from one to the other. The bank met its goal and frequently
delivered critical money to countries in Asia, Africa, and South America.
Through “bridge finance,” the BCCI assisted them in meeting IMF
criteria. The IMF and other leaders in the Western banking sector were enraged
by this. The main source of annoyance was its developing capacity to compete
effectively in both “flight capital” and trade finance markets.

Role of BCCI

The BCCI contributed significantly
to charitable causes in various Third World countries through charitable
foundations such as the “Third World Foundation,” which is based in London, UK.
Through its quarterly magazine, “The Third World Journal,” this
provided a forum for Third World economists, scientists, and agriculturists to
discuss and provide vital information. It also provided educational
scholarships to deserving Third World students and established a $100,000
“Third World Prize,” akin to the Nobel Prize. This award was given to
Thailand’s Third World Institute of Rice for its research into increasing rice
yields. The prize was also awarded to Raul Prebish, an Argentine economist, for
his economic theories on Third-World economic growth.

Former US President Jimmy Carter
established another foundation, “Global 2000,” which was funded by a
$20 million contribution from the BCCI. This foundation was created to improve
the world’s economic, demographic, and environmental future. The BCCI also
established the “BCCI Foundation,” which is based in Pakistan. This was paid
for with profits from BCCI branches in Pakistan, and it was used to fund local
education, healthcare, and housing. The Third World Foundation’s South Magazine
served as a forum for intellectual debate and provided exclusive coverage of
current issues affecting the people of Third World countries. This BCCI-funded
magazine had a weekly circulation of about 200,000 and was widely read by
businessmen, politicians, and young bankers from Asia to South America.


The BCCI story made national
headlines and spawned dozens of books. The closure of the BCCI left the public
with a final impression of a corrupt bank involved in drug dealing, money
laundering, and financing nuclear programs in Pakistan. The BCCI has been
accused of all the wrongs of the banking world, and the Western media has found
it guilty. It is true that five BCCI officers were convicted on money
laundering charges in the United States and three in England. The following
details from the accused’s court transcripts will demonstrate how this
occurred. It should also be noted that there are only eight employees from a
large corporation. By 1994, the US government had collected approximately 1.4
billion dollars in cash and assets from the BCCI case, in addition to closing
down the massive Muslim Bank. The US had promised to reimburse a portion of
these funds to global depositors who had lost their deposits, but none of them
have yet seen a dime of these profits. The United States appears to have
benefited financially from the BCCI closure by playing the role of “global
cop,” despite the fact that none of the depositors in the United States
lost any money.

hope this article has helped you learn a little bit about financial genius Agha
Hasan Abedi and the BCCI.

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