After 35 years on the run, Michael Jon Hand has been found. Hand is known for founding an Australian bank that had ties to American military and intelligence officials. The bank was heavily fraudulent, often defrauding depositors and investors. Hand was found living in Idaho.
The Nugan Hand Bank was long rumored of being involved in arms smuggling, drug trafficking and covert operation operations of the CIA. Facing pressure from investigators, Hand disappeared. Just recently, he was found living in a small town in Idaho, where he went by the name of Michael Jon Fuller.
Now officials are wondering how exactly Hand managed to live in the United States for so long without being detected. Reports indicate that Hand never obtained a new Social Security number when he started going by the name of Fuller.
Additionally, Hand’s new company, GMI Manufacturing, is even registered with the Idaho Secretary of State. The company manufactures weapons for Special Forces of the United States.
Before his escape from Australia, Hand was working as a military adviser while also running the bank. The CIA has since denied having any involvement with Hand. He established the Nugan Hand Bank along with wealthy playboy Frank Nugan in 1973. Nugan was later found dead inside of a Mercedes-Benz in 1980, the same year that Hand left Australia.
Before he fled, Hand responded to an investigation regarding Nugan’s death. Hand stated that the bank was insolvent and that it owed investors more than $50 million. Nugan’s death was ruled as a suicide, though many people dispute this ruling. In his pocket, Nugan had a business card of William E. Colby, the director of the CIA from 1973 until 1976. This led to rumors that the bank had long been associated with the CIA.
Research later showed that the Nugan Hand Bank had the support of many individuals with military and intelligence backgrounds.
Investigative reporter Jonathan Kwitny said, “Nugan Hand had enough generals, admirals, and spooks to run a small war.”
Meanwhile, Hand managed to forge an Australian passport. Wearing a false moustache and beard, he managed to flee Australia in June of 1980. Hand first flew to Fiji. Then he went to Canada. From there, he crossed into the United States, without having to present a visa.
After the Nugan Hand bank collapsed, Australian investigators discovered that the bank was heavily involved in money laundering, tax evasion and the general violation of Australian banking laws. Some investigators found links between the bank and the CIA, though this has been disputed by other investigations. The Australian authorities noted that the American FBI was particularly uncooperative in the case.
Before getting involved in corrupt banking practices, Hand enlisted in the Army in 1963. He saw action in Vietnam, and he was awarded a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. Later, he became a contractor for the CIA, and he did work for Air America, the primary airline of the CIA.
Hand took many vacations to Australia, and eventually moved there permanently. It was there that he met Frank Nugan. The duo began a global scheme that attracted investors with extremely generous promises of interest. The Nugan Hand bank eventually obtained 13 branches around the world, and it largely supported drug traffickers and money launderers.
Their ride continued for several years, until it all came crashing down. Hand managed to get away for 35 years, but he was eventually discovered. Now for Hand, it’s all over. There has been no word about what will happen to Hand at this point.