Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former Ashland Chairman Arrested by Federal Agents

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former Ashland Chairman Arrested by Federal Agents

Article excerpt

By WASHINGTON - The former chairman of Ashland Oil Inc. was secretly arrested and charged with transporting stolen company documents sought by representatives of Iran for use in a $500 million lawsuit against Ashland, court records, law-enforcement officials, Ashland executives and defense attorneys said.

The former chairman, Orin E. Atkins, was arrested by federal agents in Manhattan in July, law-enforcement officials said, and court documents show.

The arrest came after U.S. Customs Service agents surreptitiously videotaped a conversation in which Atkins told a business associate to sell two confidential 1979 Ashland memorandums to Iran for $600,000.

The precise nature of the documents has not been disclosed, but they presumably would have been of value to Iran in its lawsuit against Ashland.

The lawsuit involves oil contracts between Ashland and Iran, including seven tankers of oil Ashland acquired from Iran but did not pay for during the turbulent days of the Iranian revolution in 1979.

The investigation grew out of an Ashland decision in mid-1987 to hire private investigators to look into reports that stolen documents were for sale.

The company learned of the possibility after a New York Times reporter asked about reports that confidential documents were for sale.

Information subsequently obtained by the private investigators was turned over to federal agents, who began their own investigation.

Papers filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York disclosed the existence of the inquiry, but law-enforcement officials said they had kept the arrest of Atkins and Roy Furmark, the business associate, under court seal in hopes of pursuing Iranian figures in the case. …

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