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Ghaith Pharaon and Viktor Orbán are now neighbors

Ghaith Pharaon (right), the Saudi-born business magnate tied to illicit deals around the world, recently purchased a property just across the street from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Budapest home.

Pharaon has business interests in Hungary. He has reportedly done business with companies connected to István Tiborcz (left), the prime minister’s son-in-law, and even has dealings with the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s National Trading House.

Last week, Hungarian weekly Magyar Narancs published an exposé on Pharaon. The piece touched on work performed by investigative journalists Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne that revealed the extent to which one of the businesses tied to Pharaon, Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), was involved in laundering the money of dictators, drug cartels, human smugglers, criminal enterprises and other nefarious groups.

The BCCI scandal made even more waves when it was revealed that Pharaon was also tied to former CIA director and President of the United States George H.W. Bush and another former US President, Jimmy Carter. Other revelations showed how the CIA also utilized BCCI’s services for, according to some sources, the clandestine financing of operations.

Pharaon has been on the FBI’s wanted list for more than 20 years for his involvement in the collapse of BCCI. But that did not stop the US government from contracting with a company owned by the Saudi magnate to provide jet fuel for the US military in the mid 2000s.

The company, Pakistan-based Attock Refinery Ltd., was directly linked to the former head of Saudi intelligence, Kamal Adham. Adham and Pharaon go way back. Both were involved in BCCI and had close ties to the Saudi royal family.

Despite the warrants out for Pharaon’s arrest, no one seems to be able to find him. Not even when, according to Magyar Narancs, the elusive business magnate buys a house in Budapest, across the street from the private residence of Orbán.

But news of Pharaon’s business interests in Hungary has been circulating for quite some time. In last week’s edition of Magyar Narancs, the weekly included a detailed diagram showing how the secretive Saudi honcho was part of a vast business network in Hungary buying up villas and castles around the country.

When grilled by opposition members of parliament this week as to his knowledge of Pharaon’s activities in Hungary, the Hungarian prime minister finally admitted that he had met the elusive “Professor Pharaon” at a party in Budapest.

According to Orbán, Hungary’s state security services found the professor to pose no security threat to the country.

A warrant issued in 1991 is still out for Pharaon’s arrest in the United States.

Benjamin Novak :