10. Prince Bernhard And The Lockheed Scandal
In 1959, the Dutch government was looking to build a new fleet of jet fighters. Needless to say, this contract would be worth millions. One company in particular, the Lockheed Corporation, began to pull out in front, and Lockheed officials looked to Prince Bernhard and his “business expertise” to encourage the Dutch government in their direction. Naturally, Bernhard charged a fee for this endorsement, and he was paid $1 million, which was discreetly sent to a Swiss bank account.
In reality, despite his genuine efforts, Bernhard had little influence on the final decision. Nevertheless, the Dutch government decided to back Lockheed, and the company was awarded the contract. Several years later in 1968, Lockheed was again looking to land a similar contract, so they went back to Bernhard for “consultation.” While Lockheed missed out on the contract this time, Bernhard was still paid $100,000 for his “work” during the negotiations.
It wasn’t until the mid-1970s, when Lockheed was on the verge of bankruptcy, that a number of “commission” payments were discovered, including the vast amounts paid to Bernhard. Investigations were launched on both sides of the Atlantic. But things came to a forced conclusion for the Dutch when Queen Juliana threatened to abdicate if Bernhard (her husband) was prosecuted. He was instead forced to resign from his official duties and forbidden from wearing his military uniform. With these punishments, he also lost the ability to charge substantial fees for his so-called “influence.”