Adnan Khashoggi

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Born 25 July 1935 in the holy city of Mecca, Adnan Khashoggi was the eldest son of the personal physician to King Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia. His family was of Turkish descent and his sister Samira married Mohammed Al-Fayed and was the mother of Dodi Al-Fayed, who died in a car crash with Princess Diana.[1]

Khashoggi attended Victoria College in Alexandria, an exclusive institution for the Middle East elite, later studying engineering at Chico State College in California. After seeing lucrative opportunities for connecting US companies with Saudi money, he never finished his degree.[2] [3]

Khasoggi was just 26 when he was hired as an agent by Lockheed Martin, by which point he already had extensive relationships with a number of key Saudi officials. He was close to Prince Sultan, the future defence minister and Prince Fahd, who would later rule the kingdom.[4] Working for Lockheed Martin, Khashoggi was paid $106m in commissions between 1970-75, but it isn’t known how much he passed on in bribes and commercial arrangements and how much he kept for himself.[5]

Khashoggi also became an agent for Northrop in 1970, from which he is said to have been paid $54m.[6] He was recommended to the company by Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Theodore, and a key player in the 1952 US-British coup that brought the Shah of Iran to power.[7] Khashoggi is also known to have facilitated deals for UK firms, Marconi and Westland Helicopters.[8]

When Khashoggi pushed up his commission on the sale of C-130 aircraft from two percent to eight percent, claiming he needed the extra money, a Lockheed executive noted that “we have no way of knowing if the so-called ‘under the table’ compensation is ever disbursed to Saudi officials, or stops at our consultant’s bank account.”[9]

Lockheed’s vice-president for International Marketing at the time described him as: “For all practical purposes a marketing arm of Lockheed. Adnan would provide not only an entree but strategy, constant advice and analysis.”[10]

Khashoggi had influential contacts in the US. He befriended Richard Nixon, they would dine together in Paris and he introduced Nixon to influential individuals across the Middle East. Once Nixon was elected President in 1968, they continued to enjoy private meetings and it is rumoured Khashoggi funnelled millions in to Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1971.[11]

By the early 1980s Khashoggi’s wealth was estimated at $4bn, making him one of the richest men in the world. He was thought to own twelve homes, including in Marbella, Paris, Cannes, Madrid and Monte Carlo. He had a stable of Arabian horses, 200 exotic animal, 100 limousines and a $75m yacht which was used for the Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’, and later sold to Donald Trump. [12]

By the end of the decade, however, after an overly indulgent lifestyle and a very public flaunting of his wealth, his finances were in decline. Khashoggi had gained himself a bad reputation in the arms industry, supplying second-hand goods which he claimed were new and promising a series of bribes which he never paid. According to fellow arms dealer, Joe der Hovsepian, under threat of physical harm, he agreed to never undertake an arms deal again.[13]

On 19 July 1989, he arrived, handcuffed, in New York from Geneva accompanied by Swiss law enforcement. He was charged with helping the former President of the Philippines and his wife, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, plunder the Philippines of some $160m by fronting them for illegal real-estate deals.[14] He was later acquitted in one of a series of deals with prosecutors and the SEC. In 1997, Thai authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, in connection with the near collapse of the Bangkok Bank of Commerce Khashoggi was wanted on charges of falsifying documents and embezzling $77 million.[15]In 2010 he was investigated by the SEC for a stock fraud scheme. He and the company’s officers agreed to a settlement without agreeing to or denying the accusations.[16]

In March 2003, Seymour Hersch in the New Yorker claimed that Khashoggi had met with Richard Perle, the chairman of the US Defence Policy Board shortly before the invasion of Iraq. He is said to have organised a lunch between himself, Perle and Saudi industrialist, Harb Saleh al-Zuhair for a lunch in Marseille, France. According to Khashoggi the purpose of the meeting was to introduce Perle to Saudi investors for his venture-capital firm, Trireme.[17]

Khashoggi was married three times and had eight children. Five of his children were by his first wife Soraya nee Sandra Daley, who later went on to have a child with former UK Defense Minister, Jonathan Aitken.[18]

He died 6 June 2017, aged 81.[19]

2. Selected cases


The Iran Contra scandal was the highly controversial and illegal arrangement whereby the Americans sold weapons to Iran, which at the time was subject to a US arms embargo- and then used the proceeds to fund right-wing Nicaraguan rebels who were fighting to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government. This was in contravention of the Boland Amendment Act, first passed in 1983 by Congress, to prevent the Reagan administration aiding military activities in Nicaragua.

Khashoggi is reported to have been one of the middle-men between Oliver North, who was on the US National Security Council and instrumental in facilitating the deal, and the mullahs in Iran. He later to claimed to have lost $10m of the money he had put-up to obtain the weapons for Iran. A congressional investigation revealed that Khashoggi had borrowed much of the money for the weapons from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (B.C.C.I.). [20]




Khashoggi’s Fall, Vanity Fair (September 1989), Dominick Dunne. See here:

The Pirate, AuthorHouse (1974), Harold Robbins: Novel’s protagonist is based on Khashoggi

The Richest Man in the World: Story of Adnan Khashoggi, Grand Central Pub (1988), Ronald Kessler


· “What did I do wrong? Nothing. I behaved unethically, for ethical reasons.”[21]