BAE guilty

Feb. 6th, 2010 12:57 pm
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
BAE has admitted to charges of false accounting and making false statements in relation to corrupt arms deals with Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Tanzania and elsewhere.

They have essentially made plea-bargains in both the US (where BAE now make more of their revenues than in the UK), and in Britain. Technically, they have not admitted to making bribes, but to failing to declare the payments that were used to make the bribes.

However the US Depertment of Justice, as reported here by the BBC made no bones about what this means, stating that BAE "intentionally failing to put appropriate, anti-bribery preventative measures in place", and that they then "made hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to third parties, while knowing of a high probability that money would be passed on to foreign government decision-makers to favour BAE in the award of defence contracts"

Thus it is pretty much official: BAE are corrupt. Colour me stunned.

What is outrageous (and I'm pleased to see the BBC giving so much coverage to CAAT's response to this) is how ridiculously lightly BAE have got off. In the US they've at least imposed a moderately significant fine, of $400 million. Though even that will make only a modest dent in BAE's annual profits, and scarecly compares with the vast sums they made on the Saudi deal especially. But in the UK they have been fined £30 million. That's it. Some of which, in a display of epically patronising fail, is to be made as a "charity" payment to Tanzania, whom BAE bribed and defrauded into buying an expensive piece of equipment of little use for its intended purpose. Moreover, the SFO have no halted all further investigations into BAE, ensuring that the full truth of the company's corrupt deals in South Africa and elsewhere never come to light. (Blair had already called off the investigation into the Al Yamamah deals with Saudi).

I believe the term I used of the SFO (on a friend's FB update on the subject) was "lily-livered pusillanimous dung beetles", but to be fair they were almost certainly heavily leaned upon by the government to cut a generous deal. While they may not have wanted to actually halt any more investigations outright, after the pounding they got from the OECD last time (for flouting the OECD Convention on bribery the UK signed up to), the Attorney General still had the power to decide whether or not actual prosecutions should go ahead, and might well have felt in a position to say no if the SFO had turned down a deal like this.

Obviously I have no idea of the ins and outs of such dealings, but the blame for this should certainly be placed where it belongs: with the British government, who have shown an unswerving determination to protect the interests of their number one arms supplier from the outset.

But it's OK. As both BAE and the British government have been at pains to assure us, all such business is in the past, "historical allegations", and BAE have now put in place rigorous procedures to make sure this sort of thing can never happen again.

I have no doubt that this is true, and that BAE have now tightened up the way they conduct their dealings with agents and middlemen to ensure that they are much less likely to get caught.

BAE Pwned?

Apr. 10th, 2008 11:26 am
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
The UK High Court has ruled that the Serious Fraud Office acted unlawfully in calling off its investigation into BAE Systems arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The case was brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade and The Cornerhouse.

(See here and here for some of my previous posts on the subject.)

Not sure yet whether this means they'll have to re-open it (of course it wasn't the SFO's decision, except in the technical sense, it was Blair's), but still very good news, and many congratulations to Ann and Nick and all the others at CAAT who have put a monumental amount of work into this. Having been involved myself on the Steering Committee in CAAT's decision-making around this (and in particular on the BAE spying subplot), very pleased on a personal level too.

Update: Aha, surprisingly enough Yahoo News comes through before the Beeb or the Grauniad. Judges to make further ruling on what happens next. Most likely that SFO will have to reconsider the decision. Nick G. also replied to my querying text with: "Nature of court intervention still argue but fantastic win nevertheless!" Indeed!

OMG SPIES!

Apr. 22nd, 2007 12:20 am
smhwpf: (Wesley)
Following various legal proceedings, Campaign Against Arms Trade is now able to say what we know so far on how arms company BAE Systems got hold of a confidential and privileged email from our lawyers to the CAAT Steering Committee, relating to the forthcoming judicial review we are seeking into the calling off of the SFO investigation into BAE's deals with Saudi Arabia.

As the first link says, back in February we won an injunction requiring BAE to tell us how they got the email. In a sworn affadavit, they said they received it from one Paul Mercer, who works for a company called LigneDeux Associates, which BAE acknowledge they pay £2,500 a month to monitor the activities of CAAT and other campaigning groups. The contract between BAE and LigneDeux states that non-public documents are not required by BAE.

We then got an injunction against Paul Mercer, requiring him to tell us how he got the email, which he did, but until Wednesday we were not able to disclose this. He says he received it in a CD ROM from (he says) an unknown sender, and then forwarded the email to Mike McGinty, BAE's Director of Security. McGinty sent it to BAE's lawyers, who sent it to ours (as they had to). However, they removed all routing information from the email, which is why we had to get the injunction. McGinty also tipped off Mercer that he was naming him in BAE's affadavit.

The latest info has made the papers - turns out Mercer is a friend of a prominent Tory MP, though I don't think that's particularly significant.

The matter has now been referred to the police.

The mystery remains as to who was the anonymous person who sent the CD-ROM to Paul Mercer. It does seem strange that someone completely unknown to Mr Mercer, and apparently unconnected to BAE, should send him it, but there we go. Also unknown is whether the original source of the leak is a spy or a hacker. We may never find out. There have been spies in CAAT before, working for a company allegedly supplying information to BAE, most notably our former National Campaigns Co-ordinator Martin Hogbin.

CAAT's news release on the matter is here.

At any rate we, along with Cornerhouse, are pursuing the Judicial Review. We think we have an excellent case, but we shall see.
smhwpf: (Wesley)
Campaign Against Arms Trade have won an injunction against BAE Systems, requiring them to reveal how they obtained a confidential and privileged email from our lawyers to us, relating to the judicial review we are seeking against the Government over their cancellation of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations against BAE. Under the Norwich Pharmacal order, BAE will now be required to retrieve and provide the email with all routing information, and to provide an affadavit stating how they came into possession of the email. The judge, Mr Justice King, however, declined CAAT's application for BAE to be required to provide any other confidential information from CAAT they had receieved over the past few years. (BAE have, we have strong reasons to believe, infiltrated CAAT in the past). It appears that BAE do not intend to appeal.

Well, I imagine that Wolfram & Hart (UK) plc will do their best to avoid giving us any actually useful information, but you never know. But anyway, definitely one for the good guys.

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