The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday charged the Boeing Co. with making at least $52 million on secret payments to officials of foreign governments, officers of foreign airlines and other "consultants" as commissions for overseas plane sales.
Boeing quickly signed a consent agreement neither admitting nor denying the paymentsreportedly made over the past years, but outlining the details several of the alleged transactions and describing how such payments would be disclosed openly to stockholders in the future.
In addition, the company agreed to detailed investigation of the alleged payments by a special review committee and an outside attorney. They will file a report with the commission and the court.
The statement filed by the company yesterday in connection with the payments reads like a geography book listing of countries. Many of the countries were located in the Middle East.
Boeing said it was settling the litigation to avoid the substantial legal fees involved in fighting the charges. Boeing said there were no allegations that the payments were "bribes" or otherwise illegal.
It said it believes the "fees" it paid to "consultants" in order to sell aircraft "were reasonable under the circumstances" even though some of them "did not fully comply with company policies" covering such payments.
Most of the payments disclosed in the report involved sales to government - owned or controlled airlines in the countries, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Nepal Saudi Arabia and Syria. The company sold $607 million worth of airlines to those nations over a seven-year period, and paid commissions of 7 million.
In Iran, the company's consultant was related by marriage to a member of the royal family. He received $7.3 million in commissions, the company disclosed.
The firm employed two persons as consultants to help it sell planes to Saudi Arabian customers, it said. One "held a governmental position" and the other "is purported to be an adviser to senior government officials," it continued.
Those two persons were paid $1.06 million in commissions, and another $14.4 million in commissions was paid to corporate entities in which they apparently had "beneficial interests," Boeing said.
A businessman who also serves as an official of the United Arab Emigates received a $6.2 million payment through a Swiss bank in connection with a Syrian pruchase, the company said. In Kuwait and other countries the commission to a businessman was paid through a Liechtenstein corporation, it added.
In connection with sales in Honduras and Korea, the firm said it paid almost $5.8 million in commissions that "could ultimately have been diverted to the personal benefit of owners or employees of the airlines."
In all, the SEC said Boeing paid a total of $27 million to seven officials of foreign governments; about $6 million to four individuals who were officers of foreign airlines, and spent about $19 million without adequate records.
In at least two instances, the SEC [WORD ILLEGIBLE]. Boeing told a foreign government that it would not be paying any commissions to individuals when infact it did make such payments.
The SEC contended that Boeing made false reports and statements to the commission and its stockholders by failing to disclose the payments, using dual contracts to hide such payments, and failing to disclose that its senior officials were aware of the payments.