Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House have welcomed the decision of the Director of the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Richard Alderman, to begin prosecution proceedings against BAE Systems for alleged corruption and false accounting in its arms sales to at least four countries - Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania.
Their call comes after BAE rejected a "plea bargain" offer from the SFO to settle following its six-year investigation into allegations involving sales to several countries (Chile, Czech Republic, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Tanzania). BAE is alleged to have paid bribes, in many cases in the form of commissions to "advisers" on the arms deals, in order to clinch the sales.
The SFO had reportedly given BAE until 30 September to accept its offer of a plea bargain with a fine or face criminal prosecution. BAE denies the allegations of wrong-doing.
Kaye Stearman, CAAT's spokeperson, says:
For many years we have been exposing the illegal and unethical activities of the arms trade, especially BAE, the UK's largest arms company. We welcome the SFO decision to go ahead. It would be scandalous if the Attorney General did not take this forward.
Nicholas Hildyard for The Corner House says:
We urge the SFO Director to seek, and the Attorney General to give, consent for prosecution without delay We urge the SFO Director to seek, and the Attorney General to give, consent for prosecution without delay so that these serious allegations can be resolved in public by a jury and the truth can be known.
For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email media(at)caat·org·uk.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. The Corner House aims to support democratic and community movements for environmental and social justice through analysis, research and advocacy.
2. For a summary of investigations into BAE see: www.caat.org.uk/resources/companies/bae-systems/bae_investigations.php