North belittles interest in funds at Swiss banks

October 20, 1994|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Oliver L. North, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, said this week that he has "no interest" in Swiss bank accounts that contain about $2.3 million in profits that were diverted from the sale of weapons to Iran in the mid-1980s.

On Tuesday, after the Hearst News Service published an article about the accounts, Democratic Sen. Charles S. Robb asserted that the North family is "the sole beneficiary" of the money.

The bank accounts, which were first disclosed nearly a decade ago, were frozen at the request of the federal government soon )) after the Iran-contra arms deal became public. The government has since filed lawsuits to try to gain control of the money.

Defendants named in the suits are two of Mr. North's former business associates -- Albert Hakim and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord.

The Hearst article described one account as a $200,000 investment fund for the education of Mr. North's four children and said that congressional probers found a telephone number that matched that of Mr. North's residence at the time in Great Falls, Va. The account was opened two months after Mr. North's wife met with the account manager, the news service reported.

A second account, containing $2 million, names Mr. North as sole beneficiary in case Mr. Hakim or Mr. Secord became incapacitated.

The outcome of the lawsuits could determine whether Mr. North could benefit from these accounts, Hearst reported.

Asked about the accounts on the campaign trail this week, Mr. North said, "I never had any interest in those accounts, I have no interest in those accounts and I never will have any interest in those accounts."

During the congressional Iran-contra hearings in 1987, Mr. North was asked whether he had any interests in the money that flowed from the sale of arms to Iran or that was kept in General Secord's Swiss accounts. "Not one penny," he replied.

Mr. Robb questioned that response this week and said that reports of the bank accounts refute Mr. North's "constant claim of being a patriot when, in fact, he is a profiteer."

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