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Arabs and U.S. Banks

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Pointing to the billions of dollars accrued by “Arab sheiks,” Sen, John Heinz (R.Pa.) said he would introduce federal legislation to put a six-month moratorium on foreign takeovers of American banks. In addition, under his proposal, a Federal Reserve study would look into such takeovers and specific legislative remedies to deal with them.

“It appears that the rise in foreign takeovers has coincided with the rise in petrodollars.” Heinz said. “It is these petrodollars that are clearly behind the buying of American banking. Since the Arab oil embargo, close to $200 billion has flowed into the tills of Arab shiks. I fear that we will have a flood of takeovers, fed by the swelling tide of petrodollars that will threaten to engulf and overwhelm us.”

Noting “banks play a pivotal role in our economic system,” Heinz said that since 1972 foreign bank assets in the U.S. have more than quadrupled from $18 billion to $74 billion. “If all foreign takeovers of U.S. banks proposed within the last year are approved, an additional $21 billion can be added, bringing the total amount to nearly $100 billion, about 10 percent of total bank assets in the U.S.”

The American banking system “is on the auction block and with it our ability to control our financial future,” Heinz warned. “America should not want OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) dictating whether her private companies can expand here or abroad. We must have a banking system as independent of foreign influence as it is currently independent of influence from the Congress and of the President.”

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