Lockheed bribery scandals

Last updated

Lockheed F-104G Starfighter in Luftwaffe markings F 104 Starfighter.JPG
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter in Luftwaffe markings

The Lockheed bribery scandals encompassed a series of bribes and contributions made by officials of U.S. aerospace company Lockheed from the late 1950s to the 1970s in the process of negotiating the sale of aircraft. [1]


The scandal caused considerable political controversy in West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan. In the U.S., the scandal nearly led to Lockheed's downfall, as it was already struggling due to the commercial failure of the L-1011 TriStar airliner.


Through the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act of 1971 the Emergency Loan Guarantee board was created to manage federally guaranteed private loans up to $250 million to Lockheed Corporation. The guarantee program would have the U.S government assume the private debt of Lockheed if it defaulted on its debts. In 1975 Lockheed did not go into default. In August 1975 the board investigated whether Lockheed violated its obligations by failing to tell the board about foreign payments made to Lockheed. On October 14, 1977, Lockheed and its 24 lending banks entered into a credit agreement, providing for a $100 million revolving line of credit, to replace the Government guarantee commitment; this was used to retire $60 million worth of Lockheed debt. The Emergency Loan Guarantee Board approved the new credit agreement on October 14, 1977, through a termination agreement that closed the Government Emergency Loan Guarantee Board after issuance of its final report on September 30, 1977. Fees paid by Lockheed and its banks to the Board for administering the program loan netted around $30 million which was sent to the U.S. Treasury. No taxpayer money was ever given to Lockheed. [2] [3]

In late 1975 and early 1976, a sub-committee of the U.S. Senate led by Senator Frank Church concluded that members of the Lockheed board had paid members of friendly governments to guarantee contracts for military aircraft. [4] In 1976, it was publicly revealed that Lockheed had paid $22 million in bribes to foreign officials [3] in the process of negotiating the sale of aircraft including the F-104 Starfighter, the so-called "Deal of the Century". [5] [6]

West Germany

Franz Josef Strauss - 1982 Franz Josef Strauss 1982.jpg
Franz Josef Strauss – 1982

Former Lockheed lobbyist Ernest Hauser told Senate investigators that West German Minister of Defence Franz Josef Strauss and his party had received at least $10 million for the purchase of 900 F-104G Starfighters in 1961. The party and its leader denied the allegations, and Strauss filed a slander suit against Hauser. As the allegations were not corroborated, the issue was dropped. [7]

In September 1976, in the final phase of the West German federal election, the controversy was re-opened when questions were asked about the whereabouts of the "Lockheed documents" within the Federal Ministry of Defence. Anonymous sources also distributed several, possibly falsified, documents to the media. According to one of these documents, member of the German Bundestag and its defense council Manfred Wörner accepted an invitation by Lockheed to visit their aircraft plants in the US with the entire trip being paid by Lockheed. [8] In the course of the investigations, it emerged that most of the documents related to the Starfighter purchase had been destroyed in 1962. The whereabouts of the documents were again discussed in a committee of inquiry meeting of the Bundestag between January 1978 and May 1979. [4] An investigation of Lockheed documents by the U.S. revealed that Wörner's trip had been financed by the German Bundestag, and was related to a test flight with the Lockheed S-3 Viking. Only part of the travel costs of Wörner's secretary, and Wörner's flight back from the US to Germany was paid by Lockheed:

Wörner was accompanied by his secretary and a portion of her expenses were paid by Lockheed. Further, Wörner "lost" his government paid ticket back to Germany and Lockheed "accommodated" him by giving him another ticket. [9]


The Italian branch of the Lockheed scandal involved the bribery of Christian Democrat and Socialist politicians to favor the purchase by the Italian Air Force of C-130 Hercules transport planes. The allegations of bribery were supported by political magazine L'Espresso , and targeted former Cabinet ministers Luigi Gui and Mario Tanassi, the former Prime Minister Mariano Rumor and then-President Giovanni Leone, forcing him to resign his post on June 15, 1978. [10]


An All Nippon Airways L-1011 at Osaka International Airport in 1992 ANA L-1011-1 (1992 Osaka International Airport)edit.jpg
An All Nippon Airways L-1011 at Osaka International Airport in 1992

The scandal involved the Marubeni Corporation and several high-ranking members of Japanese political, business and underworld circles, including Finance Minister Eisaku Satō and the JASDF Chief of Staff Minoru Genda. In 1957, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force wished to buy the Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger to replace the F-86 Sabre then in service, but heavy lobbying by Lockheed of the key LDP figures led to the adoption of the F-104 instead.

Later, Lockheed hired underworld figure Yoshio Kodama as a consultant in order to influence Japanese parastatal airlines, including All Nippon Airways (ANA), to buy the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar instead of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. On February 6, 1976, the vice-chairman of Lockheed told the Senate subcommittee that Lockheed had paid approximately $3 million in bribes to the office of Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka for aid in the matter. [11]

Lockheed paid ¥2.4 billion to earn the contract from ANA. ¥500 million of the total was received by the Prime Minister. ¥160 million was received by ANA officials. ¥1.7 billion was received by Kodama. [12] On October 30, 1972, ANA announced its decision to purchase 21 Lockheed L-1011 Tristars, which cost approximately $5 million each, even though it had previously announced options to purchase the DC-10. [13] The 1986 US President's Commission on Organized Crime revealed that from 1969 to 1975 Lockheed used Deak & Company, a large foreign exchange operator owned by Nicholas Deak, as the conduit used by the Lockheed Corporation to transfer money intended by Lockheed to bribe Japanese officials. It was disclosed that US$8.3 million was moved to Deak's offices in Hong Kong, where a Spanish-born priest representing Lockheed took the cash and carried it to Japan. [14]

In March 1976, in a protest at the scandal, actor Mitsuyasu Maeno made a suicide attack on Kodama's Tokyo home by crashing a light aircraft onto it. Maeno died and two servants were injured. Kodama himself was unharmed. [15] [16]

Tanaka was arrested on July 27, 1976, and was released in August on a ¥200 million ($690,000) bond. He was found guilty by a Tokyo court on October 12, 1983 for violations of foreign exchange control laws but not on bribery. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but remained free on appeal until his death in 1993. [17] [18]

The Netherlands

The Dutch Prince Bernhard and Queen Juliana returning from Italy because of developments in the Lockheed scandal. In the back seat Juliana with her dog Sara. The Netherlands, August 26, 1976. SFA004000743.jpg
The Dutch Prince Bernhard and Queen Juliana returning from Italy because of developments in the Lockheed scandal. In the back seat Juliana with her dog Sara. The Netherlands, August 26, 1976.

Prince Bernhard received a $1.1 million bribe from Lockheed to ensure the Lockheed F-104 would win out over the Dassault Mirage 5 for the purchase contract. He had served on more than 300 corporate boards or committees worldwide and had been praised in the Netherlands for his efforts to promote the economic well-being of the country. [19]

Prime Minister Joop den Uyl ordered an inquiry into the affair, while Prince Bernhard refused to answer reporters' questions, stating: "I am above such things". [20] The results of the inquiry led to a constitutional crisis in which Queen Juliana threatened to abdicate if Bernhard was prosecuted. Bernhard was spared, but had to step down from several public positions and was forbidden to wear his military uniforms again. [19]

Prince Bernhard always denied the charges, but after his death on December 1, 2004, interviews were published showing that he admitted taking the money. [19] He said: "I have accepted that the word Lockheed will be carved on my tombstone." [21]

Saudi Arabia

Between 1970 and 1975, Lockheed paid Saudi Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi $106 million in commissions. His commissions started at 2.5% + and eventually rose to as much as 15%. Khashoggi "became for all practical purposes a marketing arm of Lockheed. Adnan would provide not only an entree but strategy, constant advice, and analysis," according to Max Helzel, then vice president of Lockheed's international marketing. [22]


Lockheed chairman of the board Daniel Haughton and vice chairman and president Carl Kotchian resigned from their posts on February 13, 1976. The scandal also played a part in the formulation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which President Jimmy Carter signed into law on December 19, 1977, which made it illegal for American persons and entities to bribe foreign government officials.

According to Ben Rich, director of Lockheed's Skunk Works:

Lockheed executives admitted paying millions in bribes over more than a decade to the Dutch (Prince Bernhard, husband of Queen Juliana, in particular), to key Japanese and West German politicians, to Italian officials and generals, and to other highly placed figures from Hong Kong to Saudi Arabia, in order to get them to buy our airplanes. Kelly [referring to Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, first team leader of the Skunk Works] was so sickened by these revelations that he had almost quit, even though the top Lockheed management implicated in the scandal resigned in disgrace. [23]

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Lockheed Corporation 1926–1995 aerospace manufacturer in the United States

The Lockheed Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer. Lockheed was founded in 1926 and later merged with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin in 1995. Its founder, Allan Lockheed, had earlier founded the similarly named but otherwise-unrelated Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company, which was operational from 1912 to 1920.

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter 1956 fighter aircraft family by Lockheed

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft which was extensively deployed as a fighter-bomber during the Cold War. Created as a day fighter by Lockheed as one of the Century Series of fighter aircraft for the United States Air Force (USAF), it was developed into an all-weather multirole aircraft in the early 1960s and produced by several other nations, seeing widespread service outside the United States.

Siemens German multinational conglomerate company

Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Munich and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe with branch offices abroad.

Kakuei Tanaka 20th-century Japanese politician

Kakuei Tanaka was a Japanese politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1947 to 1990, and was Prime Minister of Japan from 1972 to 1974.

Takeo Miki Japanese politician (1907–1988)

Takeo Miki was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 1974 until 1976.

Noboru Takeshita Japanese politician

Noboru Takeshita was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 1987 to 1989 during the bubble economy.

Franz Josef Strauss German politician

Franz Josef Strauss was a German politician. He was the long-time chairman of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) from 1961 until 1988, member of the federal cabinet in different positions between 1953 and 1969 and minister-president of the state of Bavaria from 1978 until 1988. Strauss is also credited as a co-founder of European aerospace conglomerate Airbus.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act United States federal law

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) is a United States federal law that prohibits U.S. citizens and entities from bribing foreign government officials to benefit their business interests.

Marubeni Corporation is a sōgō shōsha headquartered in Nihonbashi, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan. It is one of the largest sogo shosha and has leading market shares in cereal and paper pulp trading as well as a strong electrical and industrial plant business. Marubeni is a member of the Mizuho keiretsu.

Robert S. Ingersoll

Robert Stephen Ingersoll was an American businessman and former diplomat. Ingersoll was Chief executive officer and Chairman of the Board of BorgWarner and his international business experience was an important factor in his selection as United States Ambassador to Japan from 1972 to 1973, and assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1973 to 1974, both during President Richard Nixon's term in office. He served as United States Deputy Secretary of State from 1974 to 1976 under both Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Mitsuyasu Maeno Japanese actor

Mitsuyasu Maeno was a Japanese actor who appeared in roman porno films. He died in a suicide attack on Yoshio Kodama, a multi-millionaire right-wing leader and leading figure in the Lockheed bribery scandals. Maeno attempted to kill Kodama by flying a plane into his home, but Kodama survived uninjured.

Takashi Tachibana was a Japanese journalist. He was known for his articles on Japanese social problems.

<i>The Arms Bazaar</i>

The Arms Bazaar: From Lebanon to Lockheed is an investigation and anatomical study of the international arms trade by Anthony Sampson.

Carl Kotchian 20th-century American businessman

Archibald Carlisle Kotchian, known as Carl or A.C., was an American business executive who served as the president of Lockheed Corporation. His admission of paying millions of dollars in bribes to foreign government officials led to the jailing of Japan's prime minister and political upheaval in several countries in the 1970s.

Nicolas Louis Deák was a Hungarian-born American banker, chairman of the Deak-Perera group and a secret service operative, serving both in the OSS during World War II and its successor the CIA during the Cold War.

Events in the year 1983 in Japan.

The Douglas-Grumman Scandal was a bribery scandal that rocked Japan in February 1979, concerning the sale of American fighter jets.

The Fixer is a 1979 Japanese film directed by Yasuo Furuhata. Inspired by Lockheed bribery scandals. Modeling on Kakuei Tanaka and Yoshio Kodama, the film depicts the collusion between Japanese right-wing organizations and the political and business world. Nagisa Oshima was due to direct this film.

The 1994 electoral reform in Japan was a change from the previous single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system of multi-member districts (MMD) to a mixed electoral system of single-member districts (SMD) with plurality voting and a party list system with proportional representation. The reform had three main objectives: change the one-party dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from the previous 1955 system to a two-party system with alternation in power, reduce the cost of elections and campaigns, and change campaign focus from individual-centered to party-centered.

Susumu Nikaidō Japanese politician

Susumu Nikaido was a Japanese politician who served in the House of Representatives and as Chief Cabinet Secretary from 1972 to 1974. He was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and headed one of its most powerful factions in the 1980s.


  1. "Lockheed Agrees to Pay Record Fine : Aerospace: Calabasas firm pleads guilty in connection with bribing an Egyptian politician". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  2. "Implementation of the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act". General Accounting office. the Government of the United States of America. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  3. 1 2 Time magazine August 18, 1975
  4. 1 2 Franz Josef Strauß (German language)
  5. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter at militaryfactory.com, Retrieved August 29, 2009
  6. "In 1962 Lockheed Corporation made the deal of the century by selling West Germany three hundred and fifty F-104 Starfighters..." Paul Emil Erdman, The last days of America: G.K. Hall, 1982 ISBN   0-8161-3349-2, p 24
  7. Time magazine September 13, 1976
  8. "Lockheed and the FRG". United States Department of State. September 20, 1976. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  9. "Arms Sales in Germany". United States Department of State. November 13, 1975. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  10. Philip Willan (November 12, 2001). "obituary, November 12, 2001". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  11. Gerber, Jurg; Jensen, Eric L. (2007). Encyclopedia of white-collar crime . Greenwood Publishing Group. p.  175. ISBN   978-0-313-33524-2 . Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  12. "University of Pittsburgh, International Business Ethics: Japan".
  13. "Time magazine, August 9, 1976". Time. August 9, 1976. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  14. "COLLAPSE OF DEAK & COMPANY". The New York Times . December 10, 1984. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  15. O'Neill, Richard (1981). Suicide Squads. Lansdowne. p.  13. ISBN   0861010981.
  16. Cohen, Jerome Alan Japan's Watergate: Made in U.S.A November 21, 1976 New York Times Retrieved April 11, 2017
  17. "Kakuei Tanaka – a political biography of modern Japan: Chapter 4 The Lockheed Scandal". Rcrinc.com. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  18. Time Magazine September 13, 1976
  19. 1 2 3 "HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands". The Daily Telegraph . December 4, 2004. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  20. Times article December 4, 2004
  21. Times article December 3, 2004
  22. Stengel, Richard (January 19, 1987). "Cover Stories: Khashoggi's High-Flying Realm". Time . p. 5. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
  23. Rich, Ben R. and Janos, Leo. Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed. New York: Little Brown & Co., 1994, p. 10. ISBN   0-7515-1503-5.