TEL AVIV (Dec. 28)
The Defense Ministry recently closed a Swiss bank account used to transfer money from weapons purchased by Iran to the Americans via Israel, according to Israeli press reports.
Press reports in the past month uncovered that part of the money from the Swiss account into which the Israelis deposited the payments was diverted to aid the Nicaraguan rebels, or Contras. But the Israeli government has vehemently denied any knowledge of the diverted funds.
A Defense Ministry investigation into all the financial accounts connected to the arms deal affair found that Israeli arms dealers Yaacov Nimrodi and Al Schwimmer delivered some $3 million to Israel from the sale of the first TOW missiles in September 1985.
The Israelis, at the request of American officials, then deposited half the money in a Swiss account whose number was provided by the Americans. The rest of the money went to Iranian arms dealer and middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, also at the Americans’ request. About $700,000 to $800,000 went to the Israeli government to compensate for shipping expenses, according to the report in Haaretz.
The Defense Ministry has accounted for all the funds transferred to it, the report said. But the Defense Ministry’s investigation did not account for money transferred to middlemen and arms dealers which did not reach Israel, according to the report.