Abbas Gokal

  (Redirected from Gulf Shipping Lines)

Abbas Kasimali Gokal[1] (Urdu: عباس ‎گوکل; born in 1936) is a Pakistani businessman, who was chairman of the Gulf Shipping Lines, once the largest shipping empire in the world.[2][3] Gokal was convicted of fraud in May 1997 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was charged with defrauding the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) of US$1.2 billion and was the world's biggest single fraudster at the time. His company, the Gulf Group, was the BCCI's single largest borrower.

Abbas Gokal
Born1936 (age 85–86)
OccupationShipping magnate
OrganizationGulf Group (defunct)
Known forBCCI Scandal
Criminal statusReleased
RelativesMustafa Gokal
Murtaza Gokal
Abdul Hussein Gokal
Criminal chargeFinancial fraud
Penalty14 years
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date apprehended
July 1994
Imprisoned atMay 1997,
Whitemoor Prison

Early lifeEdit

Abbas Gokal was born in 1936, in the erstwhile British India. He was born into a Shia family. During the Partition of India, the Gokal family moved to Iraq. When the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown, the Gokal family moved to Karachi, Pakistan. Gokal had brothers; Mustafa and Murtaza Gokal.[4]

Gulf International HoldingsEdit

The three brothers: Abbas, Mustafa and Murtaza Gokal, had set up the Gulf Group (officially Gulf International Holdings) in Karachi. In 1969, they started the Gulf Shipping Lines, the flagship company of the Gulf business group. Gulf Shipping Lines was registered and headquartered in Geneva. In the beginning, the company used to transport cargo through the Arabian Sea from Karachi. Gulf Shipping Lines was well known for shipping to ports in which other companies were hesitant to ship to.[4] A notable example was Iran. The Gulf Shipping Lines was the prime shipping company that shipped cargo to and from Iran during the decade-long Iran–Iraq War.[5] The Gokal brothers envisioned the Gulf Shipping Lines as an international shipping empire, and the company soon expanded all over the Third World.[4] But in the 1980s, the Gulf Shipping Lines was having financial trouble due to the international shipping crisis. In 1984, the company had reached a crisis-point when its creditors sought their money back. That is when the BCCI came to their aid.[6] The Gokal family's relationship with BCCI founder and chairman, Hasan Abedi, dated back to the 1960s. Due to the financial backing, the Gulf Shipping Lines controlled more than 240 vessels.[7][8] By the early 1980s, the Gulf Group had diversified into many different sectors. These sectors included commodities trading,[9] retailing, hotels, mining and real-estate. Thanks to this business diversification, Gokal's personal fortune was estimated to be over £20 million, while his business group was worth billions. His credit card bills amounted to over £250,000.[10]

BCCI scandalEdit

In 1991, the Luxembourg-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International was shut down by its regulators. It was discovered that the bank was running on loss for many years. It used to give out phoney loans, concealed deposits and hid their huge losses, which ran into billions of dollars. The bank was alleged to hide and launder the money of dictators, drug lords, and even terrorists.[11][12] One of the main men behind the collapse was Abbas Gokal. The Gulf Group had an almost US$1.2 billion loan from the BCCI. He was the single largest borrower, and the loans were used to fund his own lifestyle instead of his company. The bank's auditors, Price Waterhouse, discovered that the bank had given them US$1.2 billion via 700 offshore companies.[13] This money used to be funneled into the Gulf Group like a 'giant washing machine'.[10] When the bank collapsed, the Gulf Group collapsed with it. As the scandal was discovered, Swiss Police raided the Gulf Group head office in Geneva. The Sheikh of Abu Dhabi (one of the main investors in the BCCI) himself lost £312 million to the Gulf Group's collapse.[10] Gokal and his two brothers had escaped to Karachi. Bank of England officials and the Serious Fraud Office wanted Gokal on trial. However, he could not be extradited to Britain as it had no extradition treaty with Pakistan. Gokal had agreed to travel to the United States for an interview with an attorney. He was said to have information on corrupt American officials. On 18 July 1994, he left for the United States. When his plane had stopped for refuelling at Frankfurt, German police arrested him and had him extradited to the United Kingdom.[6][14]

Trial and imprisonmentEdit

Gokal was tried in May 1997 and found guilty of conspiring to funnel money out of the BCCI, which later contributed to the bank's collapse. He was sentenced to fourteen years in jail and confiscation of all his assets. His two brothers, Mustafa and Murtaza, were safe in Pakistan.[15] His sentence was the longest sentence that a British court handed out for fraud.[1] Gokal served his sentence at the high-security Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire.[16]


Gokal was released from imprisonment in the UK in 2003. He served only 9 years of his 14-year sentence. He was reported to be living in West London (Ealing) as of 2003.[17]

Personal lifeEdit

Abbas Gokal is married to Rukaiya Gokal. They both have a daughter, Sukaiyna. Sukaiyna works in the ship management sector of Univan Ship Management.[17] Gokal was noted to be a family-oriented man. The judge that sentenced him even noted and appreciated the fact that Gokal always put his family above everything.[18] Gokal's affluence extended to having a house on New York's Fifth Avenue, multiple houses in London and Connecticut,[19] private jets and Rolls-Royces.[20] One of his brothers, Mustafa Gokal, served as the financial advisor to President Zia-ul-Haq and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.[5]

Coming from a Shia Muslim background, the Gokal's are Khoja Ithna'Asheri. Abbas Gokal's uncle, Shaheed Abdul Hussein Gokal, was martyred in Iraq. He was a greatly respected philanthropist and religious activist, and his loss was mourned by many across Iraq and the subcontinent. The family was forced to leave Iraq. The Gokal's were amongst the first Muslim families in the Indian subcontinent to rally behind Ayatollah Khomeini's banner, after the Islamic Revolution.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "BCCI fraudster jailed for record 14 years and fined pounds 3 m". The Independent. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Gokal sentenced to 14 years for BCCI fraud".
  3. ^ Block, Alan A.; Weaver, Constance A.; Weaver, Constance (2004). All is Clouded by Desire: Global Banking, Money Laundering, and International Organized Crime. ISBN 9780275983307.
  4. ^ a b c "The Go-Go Years". Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b Block, Alan A.; Weaver, Constance A.; Weaver, Constance (2004). All is Clouded by Desire: Global Banking, Money Laundering, and International Organized Crime. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-98330-7.
  6. ^ a b "Behind the collapse of a behemoth". The Independent. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  7. ^ and, Philip Shenon. "B.C.C.I.'s Best Customer Is Also Its Worst Customer". Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Imperium van de gebroeders Gokal op de klippen".
  9. ^ Jetley, Neerja. "Back with a Bang: Harry Banga is Billionaire Again As Commodities Recover from A Tsunami". Forbes. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Silver-Lasky, Pat; Betts, Peter (10 September 2012). Scams Schemes Scumbags: A Light-Hearted Look at Con Artists Through The Ages. BookBaby. ISBN 978-1-62309-882-7.
  11. ^ Mufson, Steven; McGee, Jim (28 July 1991). "BCCI SCANDAL: BEHIND THE 'BANK OF CROOKS AND CRIMINALS'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  12. ^ and, Steve Lohr. "World-Class Fraud: How B.C.C.I. Pulled It Off – A special report.; At the End of a Twisted Trail, Piggy Bank for a Favored Few". Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  13. ^ "On the trail of Gokal – Accountancy Age". Accountancy Age. 23 May 1997. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Gokal sentenced to 14 years for BCCI fraud". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Pakistani shipping tycoon convicted in BCCI fraud". AP News. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  16. ^ Atkinson, Dan (12 March 1999). "Key player in BCCI fraud loses appeal". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  17. ^ a b "BCCI fraudster Abbas Gokal goes free | TradeWinds". 9 October 2003.
  18. ^ "BCCI fraudster jailed for record 14 years and fined pounds 3m". 22 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Redirecting to Google Groups".
  20. ^ "Pakistani shipping tycoon convicted in BCCI fraud".