John Shaheen

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John M. Shaheen (1915 in Lee County, Illinois – 1 November 1985 in New York) was an American financier and businessman. He had been involved in oil and life insurance.[1]


Prior to World War II, Shaheen worked in publicity in Chicago.[2] During World War II Shaheen was at the Office of Strategic Services, and was awarded the Silver Star and Legion of Merit.[3] At OSS he was "chief of OSS Special Projects" and head of the Reports Declassification Section,[2] and an advisor on the 1946 film O.S.S.. His friendship with William Casey, CIA Director under Ronald Reagan, derived from this period.[4][5] Under President Richard Nixon, Shaheen was also "a special ambassador to Colombia".[3]

Shaheen founded a life insurance business, selling life insurance from airport vending machines, before moving into the oil business.[3][6] His oil industry activity included the Come By Chance Refinery in Newfoundland, Canada, which went bankrupt in 1976 owing around $500M, and was "one of the single largest bankruptcies in Canadian history to that date".[7] In 1973 it was rumoured that Shaheen was going to found a newspaper,[8] to be called the "New York Press".[9] At the time his company, Shaheen Natural Resources, owned three radio stations and part of a television station, but had no experience in print media.[9] It was reported in 1973 that he had made over $200M since World War II.[10]

One of Shaheen's most memorable moments took place in the fall of 1974, when he chartered Queen Elizabeth 2 to bring dignitaries to a barren plot of land on the Nova Scotia mainland, opposite Bear Head, Cape Breton. The inhabitants of the land had been cleared to make way for a large oil refinery, modeled on the Come By Chance refinery in Newfoundland, that Shaheen was promoting. The refinery was never built.[11]

Shaheen was one of the principal contributors to Richard Nixon's campaign in 1968, and in the top 100 Republican donors in 1972, giving $100,000.[9]

In 1981 Shaheen founded the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty Bank.[12]


  1. ^ John M. Shaheen, 70; Chief of Oil Company New York Times, 4 November 1985.
  2. ^ a b Roger Hall, You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger, Naval Institute Press, 2004. p216
  3. ^ a b c John Shaheen, Oil Refiner, 70 South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 4 November 1984
  5. ^ Robert Parry, October Surprise X-Files (Part 3): Bill Casey's Iranian ... The Consortium
  6. ^ It looks like John Shaheen has finally hit paydirt Windsor Star, 8 May 1974
  7. ^ The Come By Chance Oil Refinery Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage
  8. ^ What Are the Odds on a Newspaper Strike?, New York, Mar 26, 1973
  9. ^ a b c Oilman Betting New Paper Will Succeed in New York City Tuscaloosa News, Tuesday, October 16, 1973
  10. ^ John Shaheen - quiet multi-millionaire and one of the world's biggest borrowers Montreal Gazette, 3 Aug 1973
  11. ^ McNeil, J. (2009-02-11). "The Great Paper Boat Race of the World". Cape Breton's Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  12. ^ Robert Parry, October Surprise X-Files (Part 4): The Money Trail The Consortium