Saturday, May 21, 2011

Follow the Money - Ghaith Pharaon

DETROIT (AP) - A Saudi Arabian financier has reached agreement with the Bank of the Commonwealth, Michigan's sixth largest bank, to buy 40 per cent of its stock. The agreement, announced Friday, must be endorsed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which holds a $35-million note on the bank.
Ghaith Pharaon said he agreed to purchase most of the Commonwealth stock now held by the James T. Barnes family. Arab sources said Pharaon, 34, has close ties, to the Saudi Arabian ruling family. He attended the Harvard Business School and is a director of the Jezirah Bank of Jedda.

United Press International, April 3, 1972
DETROIT (UPI) - James T. Barnes & Co., a Detroit-based mortgage investment firm, announced today it had options to purchase controlling interest in the financially-troubled Bank of the Commonwealth from the
Chase Manhattan Bank of New York. James T. Barnes Jr., president of the mortgage firm, said the Barnes family had agreed to purchase 1,780,435 shares of the common stock of Commonwealth from Chase Manhattan. The New York bank acquired the stock more than a year ago in public auction after it had foreclosed on two notes totaling $20 million owed the bank by the prior controlling group interest, Donald H. Parsons [former chairman of the Bank of the Commonwealth of Detroit and owner of a Pittsburgh hockey team, the Penguins, and the Ford and Dime Buildings in Detroit] and his associates. [Parsons and his group, mostly University of Michigan alumni in their mid-thirties, took over Bank of the Commonwealth in a
proxy fight in 1964.] The Barnes family also said it had arranged to purchase the 65,000 shares of preferred stock held by Chase Manhattan, as well as an additional 100,000 shares of preferred stock held by two California real estate men, Donald Kaufman and Eli Broad.

The combined total gives the Barnes family 53 per cent of the preferred stock and 39 per cent of the common stock, effective control of Commonwealth, Detroit's fourth largest bank. However, ultimate control remains with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) which was given broad powers in agreeing to loan Commonwealth $60 million to strengthen the bank's capital. The FDIC loans, the largest of its type ever extended, was approved by the stockholders last month.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but Commonwealth stock, traded over-the-counter, closed at 7% on the last trading day, Thursday. The acquisition of the Commonwealth stock by the Barnes family, which last fall bought 85 per cent of the Peoples Bank of Port Huron, another ill-fated Parson's venture, was praised
by Robert P. Briggs, commission of the Michigan Financial Institutions Bureau. He called it "good news to all
who have worked to bring about the reorganization of the bank."

John E. Thompson, president of Commonwealth, praised Chase Manhattan for its role in strengthening the bank but said it was "in the best interest of everyone" that a local family now has control. Barnes told a news conference that John A. Hopper, a Chase Manhattan vice president sent in as chairman of the Commonwealth, would remain as chairman "for as long a period as possible consistent with his intention at a later date" to return to New York.

January 16, 1955
New houses are now to be used as weapons against Communism. The Republic of Korea and New York's fabulous real estate man, William Zeckendorf, have worked out designs for minimum homes and apartments as standards for the reconstruction of some 600,000 dwellings destroyed by war in South Korea. These homes will be built for less than $1,500 each and sold for as little as the equivalent of $5 in cash and $5 per month. So any American, who would like to put a homeless Korean family in a new house can do so by sending $5 to the American-Korean Foundation, 303 Lexington Ave., New York—and $5 per month will keep that family in its new home.
Interesting Houses
These will be interesting houses, as you might expect for almost anything Zeckendorf has to do with. He is the man who originally assembled all the land which made the United Nations site possible in New York City.
Accustomed  to doing things in a big way, he went to Korea in August 1953 as a member of a mission sponsored by the American-Korean Foundation. What he saw there convinced him, he says, "that American business could effectively aid an ally by making its know-how available."
Zeckendorf conferred with Dr. Syngman Rhee, president of the ROK, and arranged for an architectural
and engineering team to be formed to work out a home building program as an anti-Communist force.
Sent To N.Y.
Six Korean experts were sent to New York. For eight months they have been working with T.J. Palmer, architect, and I. M. Pei, chief designer for Webb & Knapp, Inc., the firm Zeckendorf heads. The result is a pilot plan for a house the way Koreans want a house to be planned and built. It is novel from our point of view. It is a working man's house, built of mud blocks, similar to adobe, and coated with concrete stucco. This construction material is natural to Korea and eliminates the need for imported materials. Floors are radiant heated by the kitchen stove. This is called the ondol system. The heat is obtained from briquettes with flues from the stove passing under the floors of the ondol rooms. By the time the smoke issues from the chimney there is no heat left in it.
Big Goal
Three-story and four-story apartment houses, with each family unit similar in design to the minimum house, are projected for Seoul, where 60,000 homes were destroyed. Mass production is expected to achieve this big goal through Korea's abundance of unskilled labor, rather than through the usual machinery for output. Zeckendorf says he won't build the houses or sell them. That will be done entirely by Koreans through their governmental equivalent to our housing authorities. What Zeckendorf is doing is to provide office and technical facilities to help the Koreans to help themselves. He contends that every category of business could adopt a similar project of its own to help checkmate Communism's pie-in-the-sky invitations to national
Plans Unveiled
Plans and models for villages of these little houses, grouped to form private courtyards and gardens, were unveiled recently in the spectacular penthouse offices of Webb & Knapp of New York's Madison Avenue. This is where the architects and engineers from Korea have been working. Maj. Gen. Charles W.  Christenberry, president of the A-K Foundation was there. "This is not a relief project," he general emphasized. "It is part of a policy of training leaders for the reconstruction.

Behind the Bush

Money is the name of the game in American politics, and in the 1970s the Saudis, who owned the oil, had the money. One must NEVER forget that since Prescott Bush became a so-called adult in 1920, married Dorothy Walker and merged his family into the Walker banking industry, every man and woman born or married into the family has been involved in banking. Investment banking and stock brokerage, blamed with the great stock market crash of 1929, was separated from banking per se--that is from the banks which handle deposits of the general population rather than the investments of the super rich and the pension plan investments of the workers. That was known as the Glass-Steagall Act. 

The Bush and Walker families were part of the infrastructure of those stock brokering moles who tunneled under the governmental infrastructure and popped out to help politicians who were worried about how to raise money for their campaigns. The Walkers of St. Louis, part of Democrats favoring Harry Truman, were friendly to the Democratic side of Brown Brothers Harriman (Averell Harriman), but the Bush side turned right toward Bunny Harriman and the Republicans. Together they were able to cover the entire spectrum. With Prescott Bush in Connecticut and his son George in Texas, they also covered other bases as well--a story best left for another day.

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