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UK BAE-Saudi Bribery Case Resurfaced

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TEHRAN, March 17 (ICANA) – The UK-based defense contractor BAE Systems PLC has bribed Saudi officials to win lucrative arms deals, says a newly-released secret US diplomatic cable.
Thursday, March 17, 2011 10:50:35 AM
UK BAE-Saudi Bribery Case Resurfaced

BAE Systems had paid more than £70 million to a Saudi prince capable of influencing arms deal contracts, said the cable from the US embassy in Paris, which was released by WikiLeaks on Friday, and published by the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) told a private meeting of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris in 2007 that they had evidence of the bribery case, said the newspaper in its report.

The SFO's then-deputy director Helen Garlick told the meeting that "substantial" payments were made to an unnamed senior Saudi official and to overseas agents employed by the Saudi government, according to the cable, dated March 2007.

Though the SFO's probe into the bribery case was launched in the 1980s, it was forced to abandon the investigation in December 2006, at the behest of then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the Saudis' objection.

Now, a senior member of the British Parliament is demanding a new government inquiry into BAE's multi-million pounds arms deal with Saudi Arabia several decades ago.

 

Sir Menzies Campbell, a member of Parliament and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats in England, called for a House of Commons investigation.

"This leak tells us how strong a case was available," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"If the information in this document had been before Parliament and the British public, there is no way that the Labour government could have influenced the termination of the investigation", added Campbell.

The cable said the SFO also "discovered false representations by BAE to conceal the corrupt dealings, which would constitute conspiracy to defraud under UK law."

And it said Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, then a British ambassador in Riyadh, "had a profound effect" on the decision by former SFO director Robert Wardle to end the investigation. Cowper-Coles has since been named a director at BAE Systems.

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