Grieve must not terminate UK-Saudi bribery investigation

Issued by Transparency International UK



In the wake of serious bribery allegations involving GPT, the UK subsidiary of European defence company EADS, and the Saudi Royal family, Transparency International UK is calling on the Government to support a full investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The Attorney General is reportedly deliberating over whether the SFO should continue to investigate allegations that GPT made illicit payments to the Saudi Royal family in order to secure a contract worth £2 billion.

The Attorney General’s decision will face a high level of international scrutiny because the UK’s anti-corruption record is currently under review by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the OECD. Under Article 5 of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, to which the UK is a party, a state cannot allow political, economic or diplomatic considerations to interfere with the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery cases. This echoes the BAE Systems case in 2006, when the Blair government caused an international outcry by forcing the SFO to drop an investigation into allegations of bribery in the Al Yamamah UK-Saudi defence contract.

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International UK said “Under no circumstance should the UK allow political, economic or diplomatic considerations to affect the course of justice. If the SFO believe they have a strong case, it is vital that they are allowed to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute without political interference.

“We would expect EADS, as leading members of the international defence industry’s own anti-corruption initiatives such as the Common Industry Standards for Anti-Corruption and IFBEC, to cooperate with the SFO and undertake a thorough internal investigation into these allegations.

“The UK’s anti-corruption performance is currently under international scrutiny and the Government’s decision will be closely watched by any corrupt company and government overseas looking for an excuse to continue business as usual. It is imperative that the Government sticks by the international rules and ensures this investigation goes ahead.”

Notes

  1. It has been reported that the Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into GPT, a British subsidiary of EADS, after a whistle-blower alerted them to a payment of £11.5 million made to a Swiss bank account controlled by a member of the Saudi Royal family.
  2. The Attorney General has reportedly been briefed and must now decide whether or not to allow a prosecution to proceed.
  3. Transparency International UK [registered charity no.1112842] is the UK chapter of the world’s leading non-governmental anti-corruption organisation. With more than 90 chapters worldwide, Transparency International has extensive global expertise and understanding of corruption.
  4. Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme helps to build integrity and reduce corruption in defence and security establishments worldwide through supporting counter corruption reform in nations, raising integrity in arms transfers, and influencing policy in defence and security: http://www.ti-defence.org Transparency International UK is part of the global movement against corruption: http://www.transparency.org.uk


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Rachel Davies
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