When Robert C. McFarlane concludes his testimony before the congressional Iran- contra committees today, he will be followed by two little-known but key figures in the Reagan Administration’s effort to funnel secret aid to the Nicaraguan rebels after Congress prohibited official funding of the contras: Gaston J. Sigur Jr. and Robert W. Owen.
Sigur, now assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, helped arrange a $2-million contribution to the contras from Taiwan in 1985 when he was an official at the National Security Council, according to congressional sources.
Sigur approached the Taiwanese at the suggestion of then-NSC aide Oliver L. North, who was running a secret program to coordinate foreign and private aid for the contras, the sources said. He made a second request for aid in 1986, according to a message from North.
Sigur’s reported actions would have violated orders to the NSC staff by McFarlane, then President Reagan’s national security adviser.
Owen, a former aide to Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), acted as an unofficial liaison between North and the contras during 1985 and 1986, when Administration officials were prohibited from directing rebel activities.
During early 1985, Owen was paid a stipend of $5,000 a month by the largest contra organization at North’s request, according to rebel spokesman Bosco Matamoros. Later that year, the contras and North helped Owen’s consulting firm obtain a $50,675 contract from the State Department. The contract was ostensibly for monitoring the delivery of humanitarian aid, but officials have said it enabled Owen to continue working as North’s representative.