THE GREASE MACHINE by David Boulton

THE GREASE MACHINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exhaustive account of Lockheed's international network of agents and lobbyists--""a grease machine designed to smooth the way to a billion-dollar contract""--based on the Senate transcripts and independent interviews. It was Northrop's chairman testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Multinationals in 1975 who fingered Lockheed as the model for his own company's bribery system, and Lockheed subsequently admitted paying $200 million in ""consulting fees and commissions"" just from 1970-75. BBC journalist David Boulton goes back to 1955 when the U.S. Air Force rejected Lockheed's Starfighter--known as the ""Flying Coffin""--forcing Lockheed overseas. Although Japan and Germany favored a Grumman model, both bought Lockheed's plane, thanks to $1.7 million to an ultranationalist Japanese black-marketeer, and $10 million to German Defense Minister Franz Josef Straus' party--plus eventual insurance payments of $1.2 million to German widows whose husbands died piloting the lemon. In the early Sixties, more than $1 million went to Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who collected from a number of corporations (and, through them, the CIA--although Boulton sees no Lockheed/CIA tie), and more than $2 million went to Italian officials after the French won an earlier contract--and Lockheed assumed they had been ""outbribed."" Indonesia's Air Force was bribed--via the ""dummy"" Widows and Orphans' Fund--to refuse free equipment from the Pentagon and sign a $5.3 million contract with Lockheed instead, and Saudi Arabian jetsetter Adnan Kashoggi set up his own corporation for his dealings with Lockheed and others. Although Lockheed's ""three-tiered audit system"" uncovered ""irregularities"" as early as 1971, nothing changed until the scandal. Now there is a ""Code of Business Conduct""--whose effectiveness Boulton does not question--and investigations continue around the world. The book's merit is in the detail; Boulton is a less vivid and less analytical writer than Anthony Sampson, whose Arms Bazaar (1977) incorporates the highlights of the Lockheed scandal in a broad picture of the armaments industry.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row