Flush oil prices and plenty of mystique had, until recently, lent the Persian Gulf an aura of immunity when it came to the current credit crisis. No more. Kuwaiti banking billionaire Bassam Alghanim became the first visible Gulf casualty Tuesday, when he resigned as chairman of Gulf Bank, Kuwait’s second-largest lender.
At issue: an estimated $800 million in losses the bank incurred as a result of defaulted derivative trades, the first case of public hemorrhaging in the region. Gulf Bank’s board of directors made the unprecedented decision after an emergency meeting Tuesday, one day after Kuwait’s central bank promised to guarantee all deposits at local banks in a Hail Mary pass to restore confidence among consumers unused to financial uncertainty. Gulf Bank, which temporarily
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