You know, American Express. It is that great American company that sullied the name of banker and American Express competitor, Edmund J. Safra, by leaking false stories that he was laundering drug money, involved in organized crime and involved in Iran-contra.
There was one hitch to Amex's name smearing operation, Safra had the money to hire detectives and prove the allegations were false and discover that Amex was behind the rumors. He forced Amex to put a full page ad in WSJ apologizing for sullying his name. NYT picks up the story here:
The American Express Company said yesterday that people acting on its behalf had conducted a campaign of disinformation that led to defamatory news articles involving Edmund J. Safra, a former company executive who founded a competing bank. The articles linked Mr. Safra and banks he controls to drug trafficking, organized crime and the Iran-contra affair.
American Express said that it would pay $1 million each to four charities named by Mr. Safra as an apology. Mr. Safra, who left his position as chairman and chief executive of the American Express International Banking Corporation in October 1984, controls Safra Republic Holdings S.A. and the Republic New York Corporation, the parent company to Republic National Bank of New York...
The campaign was the subject of letters exchanged between James D. Robinson 3d, the chairman of American Express, and Mr. Safra on Monday that the companies made public yesterday.
In his letter, Mr. Robinson wrote that people acting on behalf of American Express ''began an unauthorized and shameful effort to use the media to malign you and Republic National Bank of New York.'' Mr. Robinson added that he considered the reports ''untrue and defamatory.''
People familiar with the situation said that the false reports had been provided over three years...
Safra was later killed by a "lone nut", sort of like the way another American Express competitor, Nicholas Deak, was killed. Here's NYT on the Deak story:
The woman charged with murdering the head of the Deak-Perera foreign-exchange company and a receptionist in Manhattan was released from a mental hospital last August in Washington State, law-enforcement officials said yesterday.
Of course, before the loan nut killed him there were the obligatory money laundering charges. NYT again:
An article on Tuesday about the slaying of Nicholas L. Deak, the founder of Deak & Company, the foreign-exchange concern, discussed allegations made in October 1984 by a Federal commission on organized crime that the company had been used to launder drug money.
The article failed to include a response from the Deak family. The family has denied the commission's allegations that it was involved in illegal activity. The family has also said it was not aware that the company had been used by others in illegal activities.
You overlay the details on what happened to these two competitors of American Express and things look mighty suspicious. I have always thought there was probably a CIA link. My guess is that the CIA probably uses Amex as a front for operations overseas, and both Safra and Deak somehow got in the way.
This brings me to this personal story. My friends know my opinion on the Safra/Deak link. One night I am out with them and we run into a high level international Citibank employee. One of my friends urges me to tell him my theory, so I do. I finish my story and am ready for the Citi banker to start shooting it down. Instead, he glances into the distance and says, "Sometimes I think Citibank is part of the CIA".
He went on, "There is no way Safra was killed the way it says is happen. The super-rich, especially international super-rich are very cognizant of their own safety. He simply wouldn't have allowed himself to be alone with that man. Something else had to have happened."