The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday that it could find no support for allegations that the CIA was involved in the nation's savings and loans scandals.
Committee Chairman Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Calif.) said a preliminary inquiry undertaken at the request of a House Banking subcommittee concluded that the charges were based "primarily on second-hand information."
Individuals, including reporters, in some instances "claimed to know sources with direct knowledge of CIA involvement in these matters," Beilenson said. But they "either refused to identify the source, or the source refused to be interviewed."
Beilenson announced the committee's findings in a two-page letter to the banking subcommittee. Its chairman, Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.), asked for the review last March in light of reports in the Houston Post that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved the failure of several S&Ls.
Five individuals identified during the inquiry did have "at some point in their lives" an association with the CIA, Beilenson said, but no evidence was found showing that those associations "were used in any way to facilitate fraudulent activities at financial institutions."
The committee found that the CIA had briefly been a consumer "of certain standard financial services" at four institutions mentioned by the Houston Post, but "those relationships were consistent with routine agency financial practices," Beilenson said.
"In short," he told Annunzio, "the evidence uncovered during the course of the inquiry did not support a conclusion that individuals connected in any way to the CIA obtained loans from financial insitutions because of those connections, or that funds obtained by individuals were used to support unauthorized activities in which the CIA was involved."
Beilenson did not rule out the possibility that "an individual with some sort" of CIA connection might have committed fraud independently, but he emphasized that federal prosecutors and law enforcement personnel were emphatic in saying that neither the CIA nor any agency acting for it tried to shut down any S&L investigations.
CIA spokesman Peter Earnest said the agency "cooperated fully with the committee, and we are pleased by the outcome of its inquiry."