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BCCI FOUNDER DIES AFTER SEEING HIS EMPIRE COLLAPSE IN FRAUD

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Agha Hasan Abedi, who founded the Bank of Commerce and Credit International and watched it collapse in one of the world's largest bank frauds, died Saturday in a Karachi hospital. He was 74.

Doctors at the Aga Khan Hospital said Abedi's wife was at his side when he died of heart failure, five days after he was admitted for chest pains. Abedi's health had been failing since a heart transplant in 1988.A court in the United Arab Emirates convicted Abedi last year of fraud and sentenced him to eight years in prison. But Pakistan refused extradition requests from the UAE and from the United States.

Abedi founded BCCI in 1972 with just $2.5 million - and the dream of creating a Third World financial empire. For nearly a decade, it was the world's fastest growing bank.

At its peak, BCCI had 1.3 million depositors and operations in more than 70 countries around the globe - from Pakistan to Nigeria to London to Washington to Panama to Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

It reportedly handled money from cartels, Arab terrorist Abu Nidal and the CIA.

Abedi relinquished control of BCCI in 1988 following two heart attacks. He also suffered a stroke which resulted in brain damage.

Three years later, on July 5, 1991, international regulators shut down BCCI's worldwide operations, linking the bank to massive fraud and theft and connecting it to clandestine arms deals, the financing of terrorists and laundered drug money.

Depositors lost millions of dollars as regulators seized BCCI's assets.