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Profile: Gotthard Lerch
Gotthard Lerch was a participant or observer in the following events:
A. Q. Khan concludes a deal with Gotthard Lerch, the sales manager of the German firm Leybold Heraeus, to purchase equipment he needs for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Khan knew of the company because it had supplied such equipment to the Dutch firm URENCO, with which Khan had worked previously. Khan is worried that Lerch might go to the authorities, but authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will say he need not have been: “Lerch was eager to do some deals on the side and began selling surreptitiously to Pakistan.” Lerch will be arrested by German customs authorities for these transactions in the early 1980s. It will be discovered that he has already sold Khan equipment worth DM 1.3 million (about $650,000), but he will not be convicted of any charges. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 41, 467]
Bukhary Sayed Abu Tahir, a Malaysia-based associate of A. Q. Khan, pays $2 million into the account of Gulf Technical Industries (GTI), a Dubai-based company run by another of Khan’s associates named Peter Griffin. According to Griffin, Tahir told him the money was to pay for a workshop to manufacture spare parts for the Libyan oil industry (see August 1997), although in reality it is to pay for components for Libya’s nuclear weapons program. The workshop is understandably not built and Tahir regularly calls Griffin to ask him to transfer money to different accounts. Griffin will comment: “He’d say, ‘I promised to send some money, can you send it for me to [Gotthard] Lerch, to Gunes [Cire, both associates of Khan], to Nauman Shah [Khan’s son-in-law]?’” Griffin apparently does not ask any questions about the payments, of which there are at least nine. He will recall: “I did point out to Tahir at one stage that this money was coming out of the Libyan National Oil Company cash. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay you back,’ and he did. The only problem, as I realized to my cost later, was I had no paperwork for these deals. Nothing to protect myself with.” Griffin is suspicious, but having known Tahir for years, not unduly so: “I was asked later if it had not appeared unusual to use money set aside for one thing to pay off another, without making any official receipts. But I said: ‘Tahir was a good friend. It was like a mate asking to borrow a fiver.’ But since there was nothing in writing I could not prove that Tahir had lied to me. I was disappointed. I’d known Tahir since he was a kid.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 366-367]
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