The Consortium

Clinton & a BCCI Lawyer

WASHINGTON -- The Clinton Administration is giving serious consideration to putting a former BCCI lawyer in charge of policing drug money-laundering. One senior administration official told The Consortium that E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. was "at the top of the list" for the post of under-secretary of the Treasury for law enforcement. Barcella is said to have impressed Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin in a job interview. But the senior official said others in the administration opposed Barcella's appointment.

In the 1980s, Barcella and his law firm earned more than $2 million from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International for giving legal advice, lobbying and handling public relations problems. Barcella denounced as "absurd" early press allegations that BCCI had secretly gained control of First American Bank in Washington. (The story turned out to be true.) In 1991, BCCI collapsed amid scandal over its ties to international drug money-laundering and influence-peddling.

A former assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, Barcella had close ties to President Reagan's foreign policy team, especially former national security consultant Michael Ledeen. Barcella played a minor role in the Iran-contra affair (advising the Pentagon how to skirt the Arms Export Control Act and still ship weapons to the Nicaraguan contra rebels). He also directed the House October Surprise task force.

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