CHICAGO (Dec. 20)
Officials of the First National ## of Chicago told a group of Jewish leader that they fully disassociated themselves from ## statement by a British banker that the Chicago bank had participated “on the Arab side in a $200 million loan to Abu Dhabi that ## syndicated and organized by Morgan Grenfell and Co. of London.
The local bank officials and Jewish leaders met this week after an article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 13 by Bernard Nossiter from London stating that Douglas-Home, the Morgan ## director for the Middle East and son of Britain’s Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-House, had told him that other leading U.S. banks-including the First National City Bank and Chase Manhattan-were invited to participate in the syndicate loan but turned the offer down as “too politically sensitive.”
Nossiter wrote that Douglas-Home told him, “They decided they were on the Jewish side of the fence. We are on the Arab. It was a commercial decision taken some time ago. There is more business to be done in the Arab world. It has 80 million people, against million in Israel. Also, there is less competition; Rothschild’s can’t lend to the Arabs.”
Representatives of the Public Affairs Committee of the United Jewish Fund, headed by its honorary chairman, Philip M. Klutznick, met with senior officials of the Chicago bank to express grave concern over the bank’s participation in the loan and indignation over the statement by Douglas-Home.
REAFFIRMS FRIENDSHIP WITH ISRAEL
During the meeting, which was also attended by Robert Abboud, vice-chairman of the bank’s board who flew in from London to participate, Abboud issued a statement declaring that it was important to the bank that the State of Israel continue to prosper and develop in security and peace and reaffirmed the bank’s gratitude to the Jewish community of Chicago for its valuable, contribution to the bank’s growth. Abboud assailed Douglas-Home’s statement as “highly offensive and inaccurate, especially since they seem to associate the First National Bank of Chicago with them. We are proud of our relation ship with Israel and nothing will change that.”
According to Nossiter the $200 million loan was a deal “apparently made to finance Arab arms from the Soviet Union,” made with the approval of the British government and negotiated during the Yom Kippur War and signed just after it ended. Nossiter also reported that in Chicago, Robert K. Wilmouth, executive vice-president in charge of the bank’s international section, confirmed that the bank had joined the consortium but declined to say how much the Chicago bank had put up.
Abboud told the Jewish leaders that the loan to the Persian Gulf sheikdom was initiated before the war and completed Nov. 7. There is a covenant in the loan agreement that prevents use of the funds for any war purposes, he said. The bank intends to enforce this convenant to the letter, he affirmed, adding that the loan is similar to that made to Israel and one of a series of loans for regional economic development.
Among the Jewish leaders at the meeting were: Robert L. Adler, president, JWF; Rabbi Oscar Z. Fasman, president, Chicago Zionist Federation; Hamilton M. Loeb Jr., president, Jewish Federation; James P. Rice, executive director, JUF; and A. Abbot Rose, executive director, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.