WASHINGTON -- Sen. Paul Trible, R-Va., accused retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Secord of bad faith today in continuing to block congressional investigators from access to his Swiss bank records.
Trible, as the special House-Senate panel investigating the Iran arms-Contra affairs opened today's session, made note of news reports that Secord had filed a last minute appeal in the Swiss courts seeking to overturn an earlier Swiss court ruling that would grant investigators access to bank records.
'The general's actions will inevitably frustrate and delay the pursuit for truth and are totally inconsistent with his words of cooperation and good faith,' Trible said.
Committee attorneys said they had not been officially informed of the Secord action.
On Wednesday, Switzerland's Justice Ministry announced Secord had appealed to the Swiss Supreme Court to block U.S. investigators from obtaining the bank accounts in question.
'Unless and until we get access to those Swiss bank accounts,' Trible said, 'we will be unable to determine precisely what happened to these massive amounts of money.'
Similar appeals have been filed by two other key figures in the arms for hostages deal -- Albert Hakim, a business associate of Secord, and Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer.
Congressional investigators are pursuing a suspicion that more than patriotic motives drove Secord to supply arms to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels when U.S. military aid to them was illegal between October 1984 and October 1986.
Secord, who entered private business after resigning as an assistant defense secretary in 1983, conceded in the first week of the Iran-Contra hearings that he got into the Contra operations to make money. But he testified repeatedly to a patriotic emotion that soon led him to renounce big money in the deals.
'There was no intention of profiteering,' Secord told lawmakers. 'I know that some people were tossing this word around right now, and I resent it.'
Challenges to that testimony began arising this week with documents showing a corporation formed by Secord last fall has been trying to buy 10,000 acres of timberland in Washington state that now lists for about $5 million.
At the Iran-Contra hearings Wednesday, Secord's chief Contra client added to the suspicions of investigators.
Adolfo Calero, leader of the largest Contra army, testified he was unaware Secord was charging a mark-up of 20 percent to 30 percent on certain weapons, including doubling the price of Soviet-style AK-47 automatic rifles.
Calero said he understood from the start that Secord would not make a profit on their $11.4 million in arms deals. Indeed, said the American-educated guerrilla, 'I was happy to deal with a United States retired general.'
Secord did provide thousands of rounds of ammunition to the Contras at half the market price, Calero said, but the shipment arrived long overdue.
Another witness Wednesday, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, said he sold automatic rifles to Calero at half Secord's price -- so he went to Lt. Col. Oliver North, the central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, to question it.
'(North) expressed some surprise, doubt that they could be purchased for that price, but made it quite clear that that was a very, very good price and a bargain,' Singlaub said. 'We were getting twice as many weapons for the same amount of money.'
Singlaub said Secord later moved to cut him out of selling surface-to-air missiles to the Contras while charging them more. Singlaub said his own dealer had priced the missiles at $165,000; Secord said they cost about $180,000.
Singlaub, however, was unable to produce trainers to demonstrate his missiles while Secord could do that and determine why other missiles in Contra arsenals were malfunctioning.
Secord offered no comment on Wednesday's testimony nor on the announcement by Switzerland's Justice Ministry that he had appealed to the Swiss Supreme Court to block U.S. investigators from obtaining the bank accounts in question.
Secord won a court battle in Washington last month to prevent such access in light of Swiss bank secrecy laws, but within days of the ruling it was learned he was going to appear as the lead witness in the Iran-Contra hearings without legal protection from prosecution, which other key figures have demanded.
When he testified, Secord said he had rejected any profit in helping to sell U.S. arms to Iran and to divert money for the Contras - taking only a salary of $6,000 a month. He said he had been concerned about tainting his record and blocking fulfillment of his ambition to return to government with the CIA.
Investigators, however, say millions of dollars from the Iran sales remain in a Swiss account used by North, Secord and Secord's Iranian-born American business associate. Secord said at the hearings he would seek to release the money into a Contra fund named for the late CIA Director William Casey.