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Thornburgh Defends BCCI Inquiry

ATTORNEY General Dick Thornburgh defended his agency's handling of the investigation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and said he expected federal indictments in four to six weeks.Mr. Thornburgh appeared on national television to answer complaints that the Justice Department dragged its feet on the BCCI scandal that has stretched to 70 countries, hindered some other investigations, and was slow bringing anyone of importance to trial. "We have four grand juries sitting around the country," he said. "My expectation is that in a month or six weeks we will be in a position to present the first of the indictments that will result from those investigations." Thornburgh said the indictments would be in the areas of money laundering and regulatory violations, but he would not go into further details. The grand juries are meeting in Miami and Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, and Washington. The attorney general did not directly answer a question as to why no central task force was set up to coordinate all BCCI-related investigations, saying each area was under a central control. He also promised to pursue relentlessly any evidence of wrongdoing by public officials in the scandal, which has shown BCCI to be a major backer of terrorist activity and drug peddlers around the world. On CIA involvement, Thornburgh said: "Nothing has come to my attention that the CIA was involved in any illegal activities with regard to BCCI." Newsweek magazine recently reported the CIA infiltrated BCCI to use its connections to combat drug lords and terrorists worldwide. The information gathered led to the freezing of terrorists' bank accounts in Europe and shutting down companies that fronted for and financed the groups, the report said.

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