Formalized U.S. Request Arrives, New Companies Named
BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ The United States has asked Switzerland to provide information from bank records on several more companies and a U.S. citizen in connection with the Iran-Contras arms deal, the government says.
Two separate applications for information received this week bring to just over 20 the number of people and companies about which the United States has sought information, Justice Ministry spokesman Jorg Kistler said Tuesday.
Kistler said it was difficult to give a precise figure for the total number of companies and individuals mentioned in the U.S. requests because some requests overlap.
The requests are part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation to trace proceeds of U.S. arms sales to Iran and determine if they were illegally diverted to Contra rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
The companies listed in this week’s requests include the Compagnie de Services Fiduciaires, based in Geneva, and the Southern Air Transport company in Miami, Justice Ministry spokesman Jorg Kistler said.
Five other companies were named in the new requests, said Kistler, but he declined to identify them.
He said a U.S. citizen also was listed, but refused to give a name. He said the person was ″not unknown,″ but that it was not one of the two former national security advisers who played a role in arms deals with Iran, Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter.
The U.S. requests were received by Swiss authorities weeks ago in English. But under the Swiss-U.S. judicial assistance agreement Swiss authorities could not act on them until they were submitted in one of Switzerland’s official languages. They were received in French on Monday, said Kistler.
Two previous requests, submitted in December, contained 12 names. Swiss officials responded to those requests by freezing an unspecified number of bank accounts believed linked to the affair.
Kistler said the new requests do not call for additional freezing of accounts, but that the American investigators are interested in information such as who worked for and ran the companies at the time, and who deposited or withdrew money from their accounts.
Because the newly named companies and people have a right to file appeals, the investigation could be delayed until late March, said Kistler. Eight appeals were filed last month against the first two requests.
The Justice Ministry confirmed in December that one of the names in the first two requests was Lt. Col. Oliver North, the former national security council aide who is at the center of the investigation.
The ministry did not comment on reports in the U.S. media that other names included retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord and Iranian-born businessman Albert Hakim.