Profiles » Richard Secord
Air Force Major General Richard Secord served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 1981 to 1983. More relevant to his involvement in the Iran-Contra Affairs, he co-founded Stanford Technology Trading Group International with Albert Hakim in 1983. Known as the Enterprise, their company managed NSC staff member Oliver North’s covert arms sales through secret Swiss bank accounts.
The Independent Counsel won a joint indictment against 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 to protect against self-incrimination, their cases were separated. Accordingly, in April 1989, a grand jury indicted Secord on nine felonies based on the false testimony he gave to Congress regarding his finances, the Enterprise’s covert accounts in Switzerland, and the gifts he gave to North.
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 that banned the records from being used in the prosecution of tax crimes. For that reason, although Secord had kept his funds in Swiss accounts yet claimed on his 1985 tax forms that he had no money in foreign accounts, Walsh could not try him for this crime.
As a private individual, Secord had his own motivations for involvement in arms sales to Iran: personal enrichment. William Zucker, his Swiss financial manager who was given immunity in exchange for testimony regarding Secord’s and Hakim’s practices, testified and provided records demonstrating that Secord received at least $2 million from the Enterprise in 1985 and 1986. While Secord testified that he sent some of this money to Israeli official Amiram Nir and to Iranian dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, Nir had since passed away and Ghorbanifar denied receiving this money.
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 kept a portion of it, money that belonged to the United States. In addition, while largely honest about the operational details of the Enterprise, Secord lied to congressional investigators and to Walsh regarding his personal finances.
Also of concern to Walsh, in June 1987, congressional investigators asked, “Are you aware of any money from the Enterprise which went to the benefit of Mr. North?” Although Secord answered in the negative, he had in reality installed a $16,000 security system in North's home. The Enterprise also opened—after a meeting on the subject between 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. Because North worked for the government, such gifts were illegal.
Ultimately, Secord pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the gifts he gave North and received two years’ probation. As part of his November 1989 plea, Secord promised to cooperate with Walsh’s investigations of government officials and Secord’s partners at the Enterprise.
(Go to Secord's Hearings Page)