HOUSTON (AP) _ Federal authorities backed away from investigating an airline owner accused of contributing to the financial failure of a Kansas City bank because he had ties to the CIA, a newspaper reported.

Farhad Azima, a native Iranian and owner of Global International Airways, was the fourth-largest shareholder in Indian Springs State Bank of Kansas City, Kan., which failed in 1984, The Houston Post reported.

The Post said it was told by federal law enforcement sources, which it did not identify, that the FBI did not investigate Azima's and Global's links to Indian Springs because the CIA said Zaima was ''off limits.''

''I was told by the FBI that Azima had a get-out-of-jail-free card,'' a source in the investigation told The Post in a story published Thursday.

The story is one of a series of Post articles suggesting possible links between the CIA, organized crime and the failure of 22 savings and loans, as well as Indian Springs.

Global International, based in Kansas City, Mo., started in 1978 shipping cattle to Iran. The fleet grew to 14 Boeing 707 jets.

Some federal investigators say Global was owned by the CIA; others say it performed contract work for the agency, The Post said.

A cargo plane that the Federal Aviation Administration said was owned by Azima was linked in 1986 to secret shipments of American military supplies to Iran. Azima's attorney said at the time the plane was leased to someone else and Azima didn't know how it had been used.

Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. It owed Indian Springs State Bank about $280,000, according to a list of about $15 million in Global's debts to unsecured creditors.

The bank's records indicate Global was overdrawn at the bank by an average of $150,000 a day, The Post said.

Indian Springs, with about $27 million in deposits, failed in January, 1984.

Azima, who was a director of the bank and owned nearly 10 percent of its shares, was a defendant in a suit filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seeking to recover some of the bank's losses. The suit alleged that fraud and negligence on the part of Azima, as a bank official, contributed to the bank's failure, The Post reported.

The suit was settled out of court, and no criminal charges were filed against Azima in connection with the failure.

Global ''certainly did contribute to the failure of Indian Springs State Bank,'' said Michael Manning, a Kansas City lawyer hired by the FDIC to investigate the bank's failure.

Asked about Global's overdrafts at Indians Springs, Azima told the Post, ''I don't get involved in the details of the operations. I have no idea about that.''

Azima, who now lives in London, told The Post in a telephone interview he didn't recall Global doing any work for the CIA, then said ''As a matter of policy we don't comment on questions like this.''

The CIA, in response to a request from the Post under the Freedom of Information Act, said it could neither confirm nor deny that any relationship existed with Azima.