Profiles » Albert Hakim
Albert Hakim Head of the Enterprise
Albert Hakim, an Iranian-American businessman, co-founded Stanford Technology Trading Group International with Richard Secord in 1983. Known as the Enterprise, their company managed Oliver North’s covert arms sales through secret Swiss bank accounts.
The Independent Counsel won a joint indictment against NSC staff member Oliver North, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Secord, and Hakim in March 1988. However, because the four claimed the need for the testimony of the others in their trials, which was a problem because of their Fifth Amendment right protecting against self-incrimination, their cases were separated. Accordingly, Hakim was charged instead with conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, conspiracy with Secord to provide gifts to North, and offering to pay gifts to North.
Both Secord and Hakim shared a motive for involvement in the Affairs: a desire to get rich. As Walsh wrote, “In 1986 the Enterprise received $30.3 million from the sale of this U.S. Government property to Iran. […] Only $12.2 million was returned to the United States. Direct expenses of the Enterprise were approximately $2.1 million. Thus, the amount of U.S. Government funds illegally held by the Enterprise as its own was approximately $16 million.” While much of this money was illegally diverted to the Contras at North’s behest, the Enterprise businessmen kept a portion of it, money that belonged to the United States.
To investigate the flow of private and U.S. funds, Walsh obtained Swiss financial records of the Enterprise. However, he could only do so under a treaty with Switzerland, which banned the records from being used in the prosecution of tax crimes. For that reason, although Hakim had underreported his taxable income and failed to mention his foreign accounts on his 1985 tax forms, Walsh could not try him for these crimes.
Beyond withholding money from the arms sales and hiding it from the Internal Revenue Service, Hakim was responsible for donating gifts to North. He and Secord had installed a $16,000 security system in North's home and had also created—after a meeting on the subject between Enterprise Swiss Financial Manager William Zucker and North’s wife—a $200,000 Swiss investment fund for North’s children, though it was not clear the family ever received those funds. Gifts to government officials of that magnitude are illegal.
That final action led Hakim, in November 1989, to plead guilty to a misdemeanor of supplementing North’s salary. He was given two years’ probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
At the same time, the U.S. was seeking to recover the Enterprise’s Swiss funds. After he pleaded guilty, Hakim agreed to drop his own claims to the Enterprise’s money if he received $1.7 million from that account, some of which he would use to pay his lawyer’s and William Zucker’s claims. When he ultimately refused to carry out the agreement, the U.S. had no choice but to litigate to seek those funds.