UK defense contractor BAE Systems has been accused of maintaining a multi-billion dollar slush fund used to bribe Saudi officials in order to land major deals in the Kingdom, reported Guardian.
The newspaper said that BAE's chairman Sir Richard Evans may have been personally involved in the $32 million scheme to offer Saudi officials incentives, such as prostitutes, cars and yachts.
The daily said it got hold of a private letter from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to the Ministry of Defense reporting a major corruption operation involving BAE and Saudi officials.
"We deny all such allegations,” said BAE Chief Executive, Mike Turner to reporters. “We operate in line with the laws in the United Kingdom and all of the countries we operate in," he added. So far the UK government has taken no action.
BAE is the prime contractor of the eight billion dollar Al-Yamamah project, Britain's largest ever defense export contract. Signed in 1985, the deal provides for the sale of British aircraft and other systems to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Established in 1977, BAE Systems is a global defense and aerospace company, with interests also in civilian avionics and engineering. The privately owned company directly employs over 100,000 people, over a third of which reside outside the UK—in the US, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Australia and Canada. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)