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] John is of Lebanese ancestry.


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"[4] and head of the Reports Declassification Section,[2] and an advisor on the 1946 film O.S.S..[5] His friendship with William Casey, CIA Director under Ronald Reagan, derived from this period.[6][7] 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][8] This 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".[9] In 1973 it was rumoured that Shaheen was going to found a newspaper,[10] to be called the "New York Press".[11] 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.[11] It was reported in 1973 that he had made over $200m since World War II.[12]

One of Shaheen's most memorable moments took place in the fall of 1974, when he chartered the 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.[13]

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.[11]

In 1981 Shaheen founded the Hong Kong Deposit and Guaranty Bank.[14]