The al Shamal Bank in Sudan is now likely to be added to the growing list of businesses with suspected terrorist ties. Although bank officers deny even knowing bin Laden, Sudanese officials tell U.S. investigators he not only controls accounts at the bank, he own it.
Bin Laden's bank also openly did business with U.S. banks such as Citibank, American Express, and the Arab American Bank of New York, recently acquired by the National Bank of Egypt.
So-called "correspondent accounts" allowed money to be easily transferred between bin Laden's bank and the United States. The relationships continued even after bin Laden was linked to terrorist acts against Americans, and after the State Department said he founded al Shamal.
The U.S. banks were still listed on al Shamal's Web site but the banks say they did cut ties when Sudan was put on the terrorist watchlist four years ago.
Some foreign banks says they were mistakenly listed on the al Shamal Web site as having "correspondent" accounts. Officials from ING Bank of the Netherlands and South Africa's Standard Bank say they have no current relationship with al Shamal, and can find no record of any past relationship, either. Both banks have asked al Shamal Bank to remove any reference to them from the Al Shamal Web site.
Despite that, bin Laden still maintained easy access to the U.S. banking system through European banks that had accounts with both al Shamal and U.S. banks.
Congress is now working to change the banking laws that made it so easy for bin laden and his supporters to get money in and out of the United States without even going underground.
©MMI CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved