Perot worker accused in Dell deal led 1979 Iran rescue

The Perot Systems worker accused by U.S. securities regulators of insider trading in Dell’s purchase of Perot Systems early this week once led a daring 1979 bid to save two Americans held hostage in Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site.

Reza Saleh, charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading in which he raked in US$8.6 million in illicit profits on Perot Systems stock options after Dell announced it would buy the company, worked for H. Ross Perot in Iran at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) when revolution broke out there three decades ago.

Saleh reportedly led the mob that broke into the prison where two American EDS employees were being held. After setting his fellow workers free, Saleh helped safeguard them on a harrowing overland escape to Turkey, the Journal says.

Perot worked with author Ken Follett to write a book about the rescue, “On Wings of Eagles.”

The historical backdrop of the incident could complicate the SEC case. The 1979 revolution in Iran still evokes images of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and internment of 53 Americans for over a year. The rescue attempt to free those hostages, in Operation Eagle Claw, failed when two aircraft involved in the bid crashed.

Dell on Monday agreed to pay $3.9 billion for Perot Systems, a services provider focused on the health-care sector. The company offered $30 per share for Perot, a heavy premium over the previous trading day’s closing price of $17.91.

The SEC filed the charges against Saleh in a federal court in Dallas, Texas and is seeking an order to freeze his assets.

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