BRUNEI: SURPRISE FOR THE SULTAN.

BRUNEI: SURPRISE FOR THE SULTAN. - The Sultan of Brunei is current holder, without serious threat, of the title 'the world's richest man' ($37 billion and counting). If he looks at bank statements at all then it is probably only at the total rather than

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Sultan of Brunei is current holder, without serious threat, of the title 'the world's richest man' ($37 billion and counting). If he looks at bank statements at all then it is probably only at the total rather than the minutiae which concern the rest of us - banks being, on the whole, less inspiring of public confidence than they were.

He may, however, pay more attention to the autobiographies of leading international statesmen with whom he has had dealings. If so, one wonders if he will experience at least a frisson should he read George Schultz's autobiography Turmoil and Triumph.

One of his less-publicised tasks as secretary of state to Ronald Reagan was to scour the world for contributions which could be diverted to help fund the Nicaraguan Contras, much approved by Ronald if not by his Congress. In 1986, Schultz, with his assistant secretary, Elliott Abrams, visited Brunei and persuaded the Sultan - no doubt for reasons that seemed good at the time - to part with $10 million for this dubious cause. Somehow, Schultz reveals, the cash was paid into the wrong secret Swiss bank account and failed to make it to Central America. The actual recipient is unknown - but was undoubtedly happily surprised.

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