Model Role Details

Yousef Beidas

Yousef Beidas

Sector : Business , Banking

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Lebanon
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1912
  • Age : 104
  • Curriculum vitae :

Information

Yousef Beidas (December 1912 - 28 November 1968) was a Palestinian Christian Lebanese banker. Known as "The Genius from Jerusalem" and the founder and Chairman of Intra Bank he was the central figure in one of the Middle East's greatest financial success stories and later one of its most disastrous financial collapses. To his dying day, Beidas claimed he was victim of 'a well-planned conspiracy'.

Born in Jerusalem, Palestine under Ottoman rule, Beidas was the son of Palestinian author and scholar Khalil Beidas. In Mandatory Palestine he enjoyed a brilliant and precocious career. He was appointment the director of the exchange section of the Palestinian branch of Barclay's Bank at 21 years of age, and rose to be manager of the Arab Bank by the end of World War 2. Having fled Palestine in 1948 with his pregnant wife, Wedad Salameh, whom he married in 1946, he took up Lebanese nationality on account of his Beirut-born mother. One of the outcomes of the Israeli-Arab war in Palestine in 1948, and the concomitant flight of huge numbers of Palestinians, was that Haifa lost its status as the commercial centre of the Mashriq or Arab countries east of Egypt, and the role was picked up by Beirut. Lebanese traders were happy to lay out the red carpet for people they otherwise regarded as "two -bit Palestinians" for the capital and talent that could bring to the local economy.

Beidas established his Intra (International traders) Bank in 1951, together with three partners, Mounir Abu-Fadel, Emile Mousallam and Mounir Haddad, with a capital of £12,000 Lebanese pounds, according to one source, or £100,000 sterling based on borrowings from his old clients at the Arab Bank. At the time, Beirut's financial importance was enhanced in the wake of the Tripartite Aggression against Egypt in 1956, which weakened Cairo's function as a beachhead for European investment in the Arab world, the tight bank secrecy rules and absence of exchange controls in the Lebanese banking system made the country a refuge for capital flight, petrodollars and hot money from Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Intra was soon to become the dominant player in the Lebanese economy, and by 1966 it had between 13 to 17 percent of the country's bank deposits and assets which included the Casino du Liban, the largest casino in the world, through which drug money was reportedly recycled, Middle East Airlines and the Port Authority of Beirut. He turned Middle east Airlines, floundering at the time, into one of the most profitable airlines in the world. he owned a steel mill and a mutual fund society. His group also had anextensive repository of real estate holdings in major cities, 40 branches across the globe, prime property investments in a 27 story skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in New York near the Rockefeller Center, Beidas's bank also controlled a shipyard in Marseilles, the Londonderry Hotel in Park Lane and a section of the Champs-Élysées. He also opened up a cinema production company "Studio Baalbek" in 1956, hoping to make Lebanon the "Hollywood of the Middle East".

At the time Intra bank faced the crisis that led to its bankruptcy, it and the empire Beidas formed around it has a value estimated at between $350 to $500 million. Beidas told George de Carvalho that on the eve of the crisis, Intra was 60% of all domestically controlled banking.

The collapse of Intra Bank in October 1966 brought the Lebanese economy to a halt and sent shockwaves throughout the Middle East. The circumstances which surrounded Intra's fall remain to this day controversial issues. The surprisingly weak support from the Lebanese government and the very public allegations over Charles Helou's role in the affair have been attributed to such issues as Beidas' Palestinian origin and envy over Beidas' almost complete control of the Lebanese economy.


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