Money from a Swiss bank account controlled by retired Air Force major general Richard V. Secord paid for a sophisticated electronic security system installed last June at the home of then-White House aide Oliver L. North, congressional sources said yesterday.
Glenn Robinette, a former CIA employe who supervised the purchase and installation of the system at North's house in Great Falls, was voted immunity from prosecution last week by the House and Senate select committees investigating the Iran-contra affair, sources said. Robinette, who is a consultant in security systems, is expected to be one of the witnesses called when public hearings resume June 22, one source said.
Last March, Robinette told reporters that he had paid a contractor $2,000 in cash to install an automatic system to open and close a gate at the entrance to the home of Marine Lt. Col. North. Robinette said he hired the contractor at Secord's suggestion; the consultant also said he "considered it worth it as perhaps a business venture," because North might steer some business his way. Robinette also told The Chicago Tribune in March that he had billed North and that the two had exchanged letters concerning the debt, which Robinette expected would be paid.
Yesterday, congressional sources said that Robinette arranged for other security devices to be installed at an additional cost at North's home, but the sources would not identify the devices.
Robinette was out of town and not available for comment, his wife said yesterday. Secord's office did not answer a phone call placed late yesterday.
Congressional investigators have determined that a May 2, 1986, transfer of $15,000 from Switzerland to an account of Secord's company, Stanford Technology Trading Group International (STTGI), in McLean, provided the funds that paid for the security devices, sources said. Money in the Swiss accounts included profits made by selling arms to the Nicaraguan contras and Iran, although it is unclear whether the $15,000 is from those funds.
A memo on the transfer, in the handwriting of Secord's Swiss lawyer, Willard I. Zucker, carries the notation: "Mrs. Bellybutton." That was the code name given North's wife, Betsy, according to Secord's business partner, Albert A. Hakim.
During his June 4 appearance before the committees, Hakim identified the Zucker memo as one he had turned over to congressional investigators, but the businessman said he did not know about the transaction.
When asked whether he knew of a time when $15,000 was transferred from Switzerland to STTGI "for the benefit of Mrs. North," Hakim replied: "I do not have such information, and I find it irregular that such a thing would happen."
He was not asked about use of the funds to protect North's residence.
The $15,000 transfer early in May 1986 came as North, a member of the National Security Council staff, was preparing with former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane and others to undertake a secret mission that month to Tehran. It was also the time that Hakim established the "Button" account of $200,000 in a Swiss bank to serve as a death benefit for the North family should North be killed on that trip.
The security expenditures fit into what some investigators believe is a pattern of private expenditures of Iran or contra funds by North or on his behalf.
Federal law prohibits government employes, such as North, from accepting anything of value from private individuals in connection with official duties. At the time of the security system expenditures, North was supervising Secord's "enterprise," which was carrying out a private air-resupply operation to the Nicaraguan rebels and assisting in the sale of U.S. arms to Iran. The Reagan administration also had expressed concern about North's security because of his high-profile role in combating terrorism.
Last march, Robinette told The Washington Post that Secord told him about North's concern with "terrorists and people like that" during a conversation one night at a Northern Virginia bar. He said he met Secord through another former CIA employe, Thomas G. Clines.
Clines and Secord joined in 1985 to sell arms to the contras -- a venture that provided Clines nearly $1 million in commissions over two years, according to records provided to the committees by Hakim and made public last week.
Secord testified that he had decided to forgo his profits on the contra arms deals in 1985. But Hakim testified last week that he continued to allocate money to Secord's profit account, which as of the end of last month totaled $1.5 million.