Frere, Fribourg, Ghattas, Gould

Nothing really gets done in France or Belgium these days without Frère being involved somehow. –Forbes, 7/6/98. p.228.


31.  Frère, Baron Albert   (1926-      )

Belgian entrepreneur and financier who is the richest man in Belgium with a net worth valued at $4.8 billion by Forbes (as of May 2015). A high-school dropout who turned his family-owned nail-making company, Frère-Bourgeois, into a giant enterprise which had cornered the Belgian steel market by the 1970’s. Frère has always demonstrated an uncanny sense of business timing. In the early 1980’s, as the world steel industry went into a slump, Frère sold his steel business to the Belgian government, and with the almost $2 billion that he received in return, he was able to buy into prime Belgian and French businesses.

With his business associate, Gérard Eskenazi (see #27 above), Frère was able to transfer the French bank Paribas’ Belgian and Swiss assets into a Swiss holding company, Pargesa, just as the newly-elected Mitterrand administration was preparing to nationalize the big bank. (See: Albert Frère: Le fils du marchand de clous by José-Alain Fralon, Part Two, ch. 1&2)

After this slight-of-hand, which infuriated the French socialists, Frère and his good friend and kindred spirit, Canadian entrepreneur Paul Desmarais, were able to take control of Baron Léon Lambert’s Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) which they were to use to gain stakes in other important European companies such as Total, GDF Suez, and Pernod Ricard. (Lambert was also in Fribourg. See # 46 below)

Frère is a consummate deal-maker who has bought and sold stakes in a whole range of big companies. “He has owned half the Belgian steel industry and a stake in Drexel Bernham Lambert, the ill-fated Wall Street investment bank. He has held, and sold, large chunks of half a dozen Belgian flagships—PetroFina, Banque Bruxelles Lambert, the number three bank, Royal Belge, the number two insurer, Tractelbel, the energy group.” (David Owen and Neil Buckley, “The Reclusive capitalist,” The Financial Times, 7/12/99, p.8)

In February, 2015, Frère, who was about to turn 89, stepped down as director of GBL and Pargesa. His son-in-law, Ian Gallienne, had been managing director of GBL since 2012.

Frère set up his Fribourg company “Diane SA,” which deals in fine art, in the early 1980’s. He already controlled a similar company, Artemis, which had been set up by Baron Léon Lambert in 1971. “Diane,” the huntress, is the equivalent of the Greek “Artemis.”In the 1990’s, his son Gérald (by his first marriage) took over as director. In 2004, the company moved to Geneva, and his daughter, Ségolène Gallienne (by his second marriage) took over the reins of the family art company.



Fribourg co. : Diane. (SA)  Achat, vente et location d’objets d’art Cap 15,5., (2.2.83, 21.3.94) Rte de Beaumont 3 

Frère and his daughter, Ségolène, at the funeral of Chistophe de Margerie, the president of Total, who died in an airplane accident in October, 2014.



32.  Fribourg, Charles   (1958-     )

Member of the Board of Directors of Continental Grain Co. and Director General of the Arlon Group (Europe) SA. Continental, which is one of the largest private companies in the U.S., was founded by Simon Fribourg in 1813. Originally established as a grain trading firm in Belgium, the company built its first flour mill in Arlon, Belgium in the 1890’s.

In 1940, Michel Fribourg, the company’s CEO, sent a company ship to pick up his family in Lisbon and transport them to the United States. Since the end of WWII, Continental has had its headquarters in New York.

« Arlon » is a food and agricultural investment company which has important ties to China.

Fribourg co.:  Arlon Group (Europe) SA, Acquisition, détention, gestion et   vente de participations sous forme d’actions ou de toute autre valeur mobilière – à l’exclusion de toutes participations immobilières en Suisse – ainsi que toutes opérations financières en Suisse et à l’étranger. Cap 17,5.(7.5.08)  Chemin des Primevères 45, c/o Fidutrust Gestion et Conseils SA




33.  Ghattas Khalil   (1931- 2011)

Lebanese businessman known as “le roi du poulet” who controlled the Gatoil chain of gasoline stations in Switzerland. In 1989, Mr. Ghattas was extradited to the Federal Republic of Germany from Switzerland to face charges of inciting a former chief dealer at the trading group Kloeckner & Co. into huge speculation on the international oil markets. The illegal scheme cost Kloeckner over $300 million and nearly drove it into bankruptcy.

Soon after he was incarcerated in Germany, Ghattas was transferred to the Champ-Dollon penitentiary in Geneva, and charged with drug-money laundering.

At this time, the Italian flim-flam operator Florio Fiorini (see # 7 above) was able to procure a safe-conduct pass for Ghattas so that he could attend a meeting with Libyans who were interested in buying Gatoil. In his memoires, Fiorini described the negotiations. It seems that Ghattas drank whisky in front of the “scolding eyes” of the Libyan delegation. Even Fiorini was shocked when Ghattas suggested that the Libyans could pay in part for the refinery and retail business with “argent noir” (non-declared money under-the-table). Gatoil was officially sold to Libya for 200 million Swiss francs.

Fribourg co. : Intercontracting SA, Activité de consultant technique et financier et assumer les fonctions de courtier et d’intermédiaire dans toutes    opérations commerciales et financières ; acheter, vendre, importer, exporter tous biens, produits et marchandises ; prendre des participations, Cap 0,05.  (2.8.76, 18.2.85)  Rue St-Pierre 30


Shown at its inauguration in 1963, the Collombey(VS) refinery which was sold by Gatoil to the Libyans. It is again up for sale. This time it is the Iranians who are interested.  



34.  Gould, George D.   (1933-     )

Former Presiding Director, Chairman of the Governance Committee, Chairman of Finance Committee and Member of the Investment Committee, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”). Mr. Gould, who earned his B.A. in Economics from Yale, and his M.B.A. in Finance from Harvard, “has over 40 years of experience in investment policy and management.” He served as the Undersecretary for Finance of the U.S. Treasury Department during the second Reagan Administration.

In 2003, Mr. Gould testified before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee to reply to questions that had been raised as to whether Freddie Mac had adequate funds. Mr. Gould, like all the other directors who were questioned, replied that Freddie Mac’s finances were adequate. This assertion would prove to be unfortunate when the housing market crashed five years later!

In 1991, Gould was named as one of three trustees who were to preside over the liquidation of the troubled investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. (See nos. 5, 8, 11, 27, 31, 46, 79, and 98 for interesting ties to Drexel)



Mr. Gould is Chairman Emeritus of the Hungarian American Enterprise Scholarship Fund. (See #39)

Fribourg co. : Haef Holding Corp. SA, Promotion du sect. privé de Hongrie,  notamm.  Investissements, etc., Cap 0,2. (19.6.92, 24.9.93) Grand-Rue 56. Chez Lenz & Staehelin


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