Page Airways Inc., an aircraft servicing and sales company, agreed yesterday to settle a 2-year-old suit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging questionable payments to foreign officials.
Page said it agreed to a consent decree entered in U.S. District Court in its headquarters city of Rochester, N.Y., because the agency claimed that to continue litigation might jeopardize national security.
The SEC suit, filed on April 12, 1978, accused Page executives of defrauding company shareholders by failing to disclose some $2.5 million of corporate funds allegedly used to make secret payments to foreign officals.
Among those who allegedly got payments from Page was former Uganda dictator Idi Amin, who before he was overthrown got a Cadillac convertible from the company, the SEC said.
The payments were made between 1971 and 1978, when Page was the exclusive sales agent for Grumman Corp.'s executive jet Gulfstream II, the SEC suit said.
Besides Amin, others allegedly getting payments to facilitate plane sales were the president of Gabon, a government minister in Malaysia, the Ivory Coast Republic's ambassador to the United States, and several agents in the Middle East.
In a news release yesterday, the SEC said that in reaching the settlement "the commission and Page considered concerns raised by another agency of the U.S. government regarding matters of national interest."
The Wall Street Journal claimed in yesterday's edition that the SEC dropped the charges at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The SEC suit named Page chief executive James P. Wilmont and five other executives. Charges against all six were dropped as part of the settlement.
The company was enjoined permanently under terms of the settlement from further violations of the federal securities laws. The company also agreed to conduct an internal investigation of the SEC charges and report the findings to Page's board of directors.
The company retained Judith T. Younger of the Cornell University School of Law to oversee the internal investigation. The company agreed to disclose any new findings to the SEC and the shareholders.