20 November 2006
DON'T SUPPRESS FRAUD INQUIRY, CAMPAIGNERS TELL BLAIR
Tony Blair has been urged not to curtail fraud investigations into BAE Systems, following claims that the Saudi royal family wants them stopped. The Saudi regime has allegedly pressurised Tony Blair to halt an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into accusations of multimillion pound bribes paid by BAE Systems to Saudi officials. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has insisted that the UK Government must allow the fraud inquiry to continue.
The suggestion of Saudi alarm follows sustained media coverage of the details of the SFO's investigations. Last month CAAT uncovered evidence of inflated prices in the Al-Yamamah deal, by which BAE Systems sold military aircraft to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. It has now been claimed that Saudi royals are threatening to reduce diplomatic links with London and to pull out of a recent deal to buy BAE's Eurofighter jets if the inquiry is not dropped.
Nicholas Gilby of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) said:
"If the Government is to fulfil its promise of tackling corruption, it is vital that this investigation continues. Blair must not give into bullying by the brutal Saudi regime. The Government must send a clear signal that arms dealers will be held accountable and that BAE Systems is not above the law."
For further information or an interview please contact CAAT's Media Co-ordinator, Symon Hill on 020 7281 0297 or email press(at)caat·org·uk.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. The sale of Al-Yamamah aircraft to Saudi Arabia was agreed between British Aerospace (now BAE Systems), the Saudi government and the UK government in 1985. The deal was renewed in 1988. In December 2005, it was announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed a multibillion pound deal to buy Eurofighter jets from BAE Systems.
3. Since 2003, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been investigating BAE Systems' dealings with Saudi Arabia. BAE Systems has denied all allegations of corruption and stated that it is co-operating with the inquiry.
4. In October 2006, CAAT publicised documents suggesting the inflation of prices in the Al-Yamamah deal of 1985. The documents were found in the National Archives, but were later withdrawn by the Department for Trade and Industry who stated that their release into the public domain was a mistake.
5. The allegations concerning pressure from the Saudi regime to end the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office were published in the Sunday Times on 19th November 2006.
6. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview on this issue.