A McDonnell Douglas consultant has become front-page news in
the Czech Republic, amid allegations that he bribed a member of
Parliament and misrepresented himself as having U.S. government
Thomas C. Stewart of Oregon, who was decorated for flying
missions during the Persian Gulf War as a Navy Reserve commander,
has worked for McDonnell since last May, trying to help sell F/A-18
fighter jets to the Czech Republic's armed forces.
With the fall of communism, the Czech Republic and other former
Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe have become markets for Western
technology. Consultants like Stewart use their contacts to help
ease the way through bureaucracies.
But the St. Louis-based firm is reaping attention that it would
rather avoid, such as these recent headlines in Prague: "Beware of
the Man From Douglas" and "McDonnell Douglas Bid Clouded by FBI
Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense, now
with the Brookings Institution in Washington, said: "Can it hurt
McDonnell Douglas? Sure it can. Every time there's a bribery
allegation, it causes problems."
Likely expansion of NATO to include these emerging democracies
makes them key for U.S. firms, Korb said, because the countries
would need "equipment standardized with ours."
Asked whether the allegations would hurt McDonnell, which does
one-third of its business overseas, company spokesman Larry
McCracken said: "We have high ethical business standards that all
of our consultants agree to adhere to as part of our contract. We
have nothing to indicate that Mr. Stewart has deviated from any of
these standards in his work for us.
"We look forward to establishing a long relationship with the
Czech government and Czech industry," McCracken added. "We're
always looking for opportunities. . . . There are developing
markets in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland that are looking to
modernize and are seeking more ties with the West."
McDonnell has opened offices in all three countries and hopes
to sell 30 Hornets apiece in Czech and Hungarian deals, and 50 to
Poland. McDonnell is competing with Lockheed Martin and others.
McCracken said he wasn't sure whether McDonnell knew of the
allegations when it hired Stewart.
FBI's Unsigned Report
The case has sparked "extensive publicity" in the Czech
Republic, the prime minister's spokesman, Ivo Strejzek, said from
Prague. Some articles tend to support Stewart's contention that he
has been wrongly accused.
Stewart, president of the Cort MacKenzie investment banking
firm in suburban Portland, blames the FBI and wants an apology. He
contends that his problems stem from an eight-page unsigned
document sent by the FBI's Portland office to Czech officials last
year and leaked to Prague newspapers. A copy was obtained from
Czech sources. It tells a colorful tale of bravado and intrigue.
The eight pages paint Stewart as a braggart who used high-level
contacts, even if it meant exaggerating his own importance or
The FBI said that when Stewart met Portland businessman Bruno
Amicci in 1994, Stewart portrayed himself as moving "in influential
circles" and advising British and Chinese defense officials.
According to the FBI document, Stewart proposed a business
relationship with Amicci, who ran Triad International with a Czech
business partner named Ludek Vychodil, now chief of staff to the
prime minister. …