Iran-Contra Figure Hakim Gives Up $7.3 Million, Gets Probation
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Iran-Contra middleman Albert Hakim was placed on two years probation and fined $5,000 Thursday after giving up his claim on what prosecutors said was $7.3 million in arms-deal profits now frozen in Swiss accounts.
The Iranian-born businessman, who pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to illegally helping supplement Oliver North’s government income with a $13,800 home security system, bitterly attacked the government after his sentencing.
″I have been abused by two presidents,″ Hakim said after his appearance before U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell. ″I’m talking about President Reagan and President Walsh,″ he said, the latter referring to independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, who directs the Iran-Contra investigation.
″The American public has had enough of this soap opera,″ Hakim said.
Hakim, who could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine on the misdemeanor charge, is the sixth person sentenced in the Iran- Contra affair. No one has been sent to jail.
Richard Janis, Hakim’s lawyer, said his case was ″a monument to the hypocrisy of a system that permits individuals″ to face criminal charges after they ″in good faith carried out the requests of their government.″ He called Hakim ″a fall guy,″ a term that former White House aide North has used to describe himself in the affair.
Former Reagan National Security Adviser John M. Poindexter still faces trial, on Feb. 20.
Shortly after the Iran-Contra affair erupted in November 1986, Swiss authorities placed a hold on $7.8 million contained in accounts of ″the Enterprise,″ a financial network of offshore companies Hakim helped set up for use in the affair. With interest, that amount has grown to $9 million.
Hakim and two Swiss-based lawyers working with him are claiming part of the money, said Mary Belcher, a spokeswoman for the Iran-Contra prosecutor’s office.
He agreed to let the U.S. government have $7.3 million, while he will split $1.7 million with the two lawyers, Willard Zucker and Philippe Neyroud. The Justice Department approved the deal Monday. Zucker says he is owed $800,000 while Neyroud says he is owed $120,000, said Belcher.
The U.S. government now will try to persuade the Swiss to unfreeze the accounts.
Belcher said $7.3 million was all that could be identified as Iran arms sale proceeds and that ″we are satisfied with the agreement,″ despite the fact that Hakim and his lawyers stand to collect the remainder.
Gesell also placed one of Hakim’s companies, Panamanian-based Lake Resources Inc., on probation and ordered that the corporation be dissolved. Lake Resources had pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government property in the diversion of Iran arms-sale profits to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
According to Hakim, North and others in the affair, the arms sales to Iran were aimed at winning the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon while aid was channeled to the Contras to help them against the leftist government in Nicaragua.
Hakim became involved in the Contra resupply operation in 1984 when North enlisted the help of Hakim’s business partner, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Secord.
North said he contacted Secord for the Contra operation at the suggestion of CIA Director William Casey, whose agency was barred by law from providing military aid to the rebel force. Reagan authorized the idea of keeping the Contras in operation. Hakim and Secord, who later were brought into the Iran arms operation as well, set up ″the Enterprise,″
″Very substantial funds - measured in the millions of dollars - which have been frozen″ in Swiss bank accounts ″have now been released to the United States by you,″ Gesell told Hakim.
Hakim stated in court papers that other participants in the affair have become wealthy, an apparent reference to North who has benefited from fund- raising efforts and big-fee speaking engagements.
Gesell said Hakim’s cooperation with Iran-Contra prosecutors was ″in sharp contrast to any other of the defendants who have been at one time or another before me in ... the Iran-Contra ... case.″
The judge was referring to North, Secord and Poindexter. North was convicted of three felonies and was fined and ordered to perform community service; Secord pleaded guilty to making a false statement in connection with North’s security system and was put on two years probation.
Former hostage David Jacobsen, who credits Hakim with with winning his release, said in Durango, Colo., where he is a hospital administrator, ″I have mixed feelings - joy that he was only sentenced to two years probation and a $5,000 fine, but sadness that he was ever indicted.″
Jacobsen, who has written U.S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell on behalf of Hakim and other Iran-Contra figures, said he believes Hakim should not have been prosecuted because ″perhaps more than any other individual in this case, could not have had any reason to believe that his activities were not endorsed or supported by higher authorities.″
Hakim asserts that only about $1.3 million from Enterprise money was transferred to him for his Iran-Contra activities in 1985 and 1986, much of it for expenses.
Although a private businessman who did not have a security clearance, Hakim had access to an astonishing amount of sensitive information, his lawyer disclosed in court papers this week.
In connection with the Iran-Contra affair, Hakim received top secret communications equipment from the National Security Agency and was made privy to classified intelligence information. He also was provided with account numbers of CIA bank accounts and was referred to CIA proprietary companies overseas. One item of classified information which Hakim listed in the document is so sensitive that government security officers deleted it from the court filing.