John Carter BeeseLifelong Bush family functionary John Carter Beese was a director at Riggs National Bank, Washington D.C.’s largest, when evidence of international money laundering led to the bank’s downfall in 2004. Riggs Bank was fined more than $40 million dollars for hiding transactions involving the Saudi Royals and 9/11 money transfers, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and a corrupt regime in Equatorial Guinea.
The U.S. government's top D.C. bank examiner, Ashley Lee, had derailed earlier probes of Riggs. Lee resigned from his government post shortly before the scandal broke, immediately joining Riggs as Senior Vice President.
Beese was also a founding director of the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm created by the Bush family’s inner circle. He’d been a Bush appointed Securities Exchange Commissioner and CFO at the Bush family controlled Alex Brown & Company. In April 2007, Beese was dead at the age of 50, a reported suicide. The details of his death were not reported.
Beese ties to the Bush family date back to the mid-1970s. While a student at Florida’s Rollins College he was friendly with Marvin Bush, youngest brother of President George W. At age 24 Beese was named finance co-chair of George H.W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential bid. In 1987 Beese was listed among the founders of the now omnipotent Carlyle Group, with a $60 billion dollar portfolio as of 2008. In another insider placement, Beese rose through the ranks at Alex Brown, an investment bank started by President Bush's grandfather, Prescott.
There Beese worked under A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, who went on to head Alex Brown’s parent company Deutsch Bank, and then transferred over to the #3 spot at another Bush alma mater – the CIA. When last heard from in January 2008, Krongard resigned from the Board of Blackwater. His brother Howard simultaneously quit as State Department Inspector General, after he was exposed for blocking Blackwater investigations.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush tapped Beese to head the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, where Beese allocated government aid to U.S. businesses doing commerce overseas. In 1992, Bush appointed him a Commissioner of the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. Beese left the position in 1994 and returned to Alex Brown, where he worked on behalf of Riggs. In 1998, Beese joined Riggs to become president of its new Riggs Capital Partners division. (At the time, Riggs Bank was run by Joseph Allbritton, a longtime Bush family friend who had actually once made George H.W. Bush a director at another bank.) Riggs Capital Partners was created right after the George H.W. Bush’s brother Jonathan joined the bank. Jonathan brought with him the accounts of several Saudi Royals, including that of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the one-time Saudi ambassador to the U.S.
In 2001, Beese was promoted to director at Riggs, where he was asked to ensure that the company was in compliance with government regulations. It was during this time that federal bank officials began suspecting illegal transactions.
After 9/11, it was learned that Prince Bandar’s wife had actually sent more than $70,000 to a San Diego couple, who then turned it over to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national, opened Riggs bank accounts for the two hijackers. Many other suspicious Riggs transactions involved Prince Bandar personally, with him often transferring over $1 million at a time. In 2003, the Bush administration insisted on censoring sections of a congressional report on the 2001 terrorist attacks that dealt with the Saudis’ Riggs bank accounts. The matter of Bandar’s wife’s involvement was not pursued by the FBI.
In the wake of the Riggs scandals, top bank officials—including Allbritton and Beese—left. But despite the high-profile scandal that plagued his company, Beese’s professional path remained well-lit and wide open. He sat on the boards of many private firms, and even served as a member of President Bush’s Information Technology Advisory Committee. In 2006, he was appointed to the board of information-security firm SafeNet, Inc., which had been hit by its own scandal for backdating stock options. His role was to advise the company on proper governance.
Just a few months later, for reasons unknown, he reportedly killed himself.
- Business Wire, April 26, 2001 “Equivest Finance Announces Three New
- Washington Business Journal,
April 10, 2007, “Local Venture Capitalist J. Carter Beese Jr. Dies at 50.” Hammer,
- January 9, 1995, F9 “Founder Going Beyond the Carlyle Group.” Mintz, John
- Washington Post, February 26, 2005
“Allbrittons, Riggs to Pay Victims of Pinochet.”
- BBC News, October 4, 2007 “Pinochet Family Arrested in