From British daily The Morning Star:
BAE under scrutiny after prosecution
Sunday 27 September 2009
Paddy McGuffin, Home Affairs Reporter
It follows a landmark prosecution of another British firm for corruption and bribery overseas by the SFO on Friday.
The SFO successfully prosecuted Mabey and Johnson Ltd, a steel bridging supplier from Twyford which admitted numerous offences of overseas corruption and breaching UN sanctions between 1993-2001.
The charges relate to the firm’s attempts to influence decision-makers on public contracts in Jamaica and Ghana and the breaching of UN sanctions in Iraq by bidding for contracts under the “oil for food” programme.
The SFO began its investigation into the Ghanaian and Jamaican cases last year after voluntary disclosure by the management of Mabey and Johnson’s holding company. The Iraq charges resulted from an SFO investigation launched in 2007.
The firm has now agreed to pay out £6.6 million in fines and reparations.
Commenting on the prosecution – the first of its kind in Britain – SFO director Richard Alderman said: “This is a landmark outcome – the first conviction in this country of a company for overseas corruption and for breaking UN Iraq sanctions and, satisfyingly, achieved quickly.
“The offences are serious ones but the company has played its part positively by recognising the unacceptability of those past business practices and by coming forward to report them.”
In 2006, the SFO dropped an investigation on advice from the government into alleged bribery by BAE of members of the Saudi establishment over a £43 billion arms deal.
In the 1985 Al-Yamamah deal, BAE supplied Tornado and Hawk jets and other equipment to the dictatorship.
When contacted by the Star, a spokesman for the SFO said that, while the Al-Yamamah case remained closed, it was investigating other cases regarding BAE in relation to alleged bribery in South Africa, Tanzania and the Czech Republic.
“These investigations remain ongoing,” he said.
“No proceedings or charges have been brought as yet.”
The Guardian newspaper has reported that BAE has been given an ultimatum to accept a plea bargain or face prosecution.
But the SFO spokesman insisted: “We haven’t said anything to that effect and I am not able to confirm of deny the report.”
Update 29 September 2009: here.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to ask the attorney general to prosecute arms manufacturer BAe Systems for bribing officials in South Africa, Tanzania, the Czech Republic and Romania: here. And here.
The government must decide whether to prosecute over the BAE Systems bribery scandal—after letting the arms trader off the hook last time: here.
USA: The Department of Defense awarded nearly $30 million in stimulus contracts to six companies while they were under federal criminal investigation on suspicion of defrauding the government: here.