Habib Bank Denies Involvement In Nuclear Export Deal
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Pakistan’s state-owned Habib Bank on Tuesday denied having helped finance the attempted export of restricted nuclear materials to Pakistan in 1987.
Arshad Pervez, a Canadian who was convicted in Philadephia of trying to export the metals in 1987, told the Canadian Press news agency the Habib European Bank put out $170,000 to finance the purchase of specialty metals used to make nuclear weapons.
But Maqbool Ahmed Soomro, president of Pakistan’s state-owned Habib Bank said his bank was never involved in the financing scheme nor had he ever heard of Habib European Bank.
He said Pakistan’s Habib family started a second bank, this time in Zurich, after their Pakistani bank was nationalized in the 1970s. But Soomro said the Zurich-based bank is called the Habib Bank International A.G. It also has a branch in Pakistan.
Soomro vowed to delve deeper into the accusation but said ″so far we are unaware of the bank’s involvement in any such deal.″
Omar Khan, the chief executive of the Canadian operations of the scandal- tainted Bank of Credit and Commerce International said BCCI was named as an imtermediary in the deal, but only because the Pakistani bank lacked a Canadian office.
Anwar Querishi, assistant vice-president, public relations, for Habib Bank in Karachi, said the deal was supposedly made in the United States ″so why would a Canadian bank be used as an imtermediary for a deal in the United States?″
The Pakistani bank has two branches in New York City.
Pervez was convicted in a Philadelphia court of conspiracy to file false documents to get an export licence to ship maraging 350 steel to Pakistan, of filing three false documents and of attempting to export beryllium.
Maraging 350 steel is a strategic steel alloy needed to produce weapons- grade uranium. Beryllium is a metal used to boost the intensity of nuclear explosions.
Pakistan routinely denies it is making a nuclear weapon, although Washington suspended a $573 million aid program, believing Islamabad had already crossed the nuclear arms threshhold.