Campaigners highlight apparent immunity given to BAE as SFO brings plea bargain settlement to court

22 November 2010

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House have urged the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to bring to the Court’s attention its undertaking never to prosecute any individual in future if doing so involves alleging BAE Systems was guilty of corruption.

The request comes on the eve of SFO bringing to Court its plea bargain settlement agreed in February this year with BAE concerning the company’s sale of a military radar system to Tanzania in 1999.

The SFO had been investigating alleged corruption in the sale, but BAE will plead guilty only to a breach of duty to keep accounting records in relation to payments made to a marketing adviser in Tanzania.

In their letter of 19 November to SFO Director Richard Alderman the two groups state:

We remain deeply concerned about the terms of the plea bargain that the SFO has struck with BAE. ...you disclosed that:

"BAe requested an undertaking form [sic] the SFO that in any future proceedings (to which BAe was not a party) the prosecution would not allege that the company was guilty of corruption."

Despite repeated requests, the SFO has not released further details of this undertaking.

CAAT and The Corner House contend that the undertaking would limit future SFO prosecutions against individuals if doing so involved making allegations about BAE's conduct and, as such, would appear to make the plea bargain unlawful.

The case "SFO v BAE Systems" is scheduled for Tuesday 23 November at 10am, in Court 1, Westminister Magistrates Court. At this preliminary hearing a date will be set for a final hearing in 2011 at which a judge will be asked to confirm the final settlement.

For further information contact CAAT Media Co-ordinator Kaye Stearman email the press officer or ring 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or contact The Corner House at 01258 473795.

Notes

  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. A copy of the letter of 19 November from CAAT and The Corner House to Richard Alderman, Director of the SFO is attached PDF here.
  3. Further information about BAE's radar deal with Tanzania can be found on the BAE country investigations page.
  4. More information on the SFO's plea bargain with BAE and the Legal challenge brought by CAAT and The Corner House can found here
  5. Westminister Magistrate Courts, 70 Horseferry Road, Westminster, London SW1P2.

ENDS

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