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back to article Court lifts lid on Saudi terror threat claim

UK-headquartered BAE Systems faces the risk that a Serious Fraud Office investigation into its dealings - said to have been personally halted in 2006 by Tony Blair citing "national security" concerns - might be reopened. A civil lawsuit brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and social justice umbrella organisation …

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Silver badge

If you've got the money.

We will sell our souls.

"SFO investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they carried on." Sounds much like a terrorist threat to me, unless one is swimming in oil, in which case it becomes an incentive to play ball.

Now imagine someone stating the above in an angry knee jerk reaction as a response to the murder of a relative in Iraq by the US or UK. The person would be in Belmarsh or Guantanamo, quicker than many could blink. (Innocents in Iraq are killed, whilst soldiers are murdered? I don't think so, It is all murder despite what the media would have you believe).

Do I expect this to go anywhere except back under the carpet? No.

Will we ever be governed by anyone with even a smattering of honesty and integrity? We can live in hope.

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Eh?

That was it?! That was their threat? To keep secret anything they heard about possible terror attacks on Britain? Jesus, they may as well have said "I'm not going to play with you any more" for how serious that threat was.

The Saudis get their info from torturing folk, which (overlooking any moral arguments) is a shit way of getting believable intel. I'm pretty sure anyone would admit to terrorist intentions after a week or two with a soldering iron - anything to keep your eyes/genitalia reasonably intact.

If only it was December - I could send my Christmas wish list to Santa. Namely that BAE get nailed for any corruption they have committed, the Saudis are dragged through the mud, and Blair gets his commupence. A boy can wish...

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It sounds like a criminal offense was committed here

While the Saudis may be immune to prosecution because they did what they did while not present in the UK and they are foreigners, if Britain is to be a nation of laws and traditions, Tony Blair should be charged for any and all criminal offenses he committed while in office.

It sounds like Tony was pretty quick to go along with the Saudi requests, not putting up any resistance, before agreeing to participate in carrying out the Saudi's request to suspend the SFO investigation. Blair then wrote and sent out his instructions to the SFO.

Subverting the cause of justice, interfering with a police investigation, abuse of office, "accessory after the fact" to fraud, and maybe accomplice to extortion might be charges to explore.

If a henchman repeats or utters threats on the instructions of his boss, can that henchman be charged with uttering threats? If so, there is another charge to explore.

And since Blair sent his orders to the SFO while in the UK, and also since he is a UK citizen, UK law should apply to him.

Do British PMs have to obey British criminal law? Or do they just put the law there for other people to obey?

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Anonymous Coward

Why go after BAE ?

BAE are the scapegoats in all of this. Sure BAE paid large sums in to dubious accounts but it was not BAE who did the deals in the first place. The Saudi's made the deals directly with Her Majesty's Government, who then told BAE to do the business.

Blair may have been influenced by Saudi threats, but he and others were equally scared about public disclosure of how HMG goes about the world promoting the arms business - as far as he was concerned it could have put a downer on his 'legacy'.

The reason that the Yank agencies are/were sniffing around and looking to get involved in prosecuting "corrupt non-nationals" is that they were supremely fucked off to have originally lost out on the business. There's even some evidence that the Yanks lost out because they didn't factor high enough for the bribes - not that they weren't going to pay them, just they didn't offer enough. So the Yanks efforts at prosecution are nothing to with the high moral ground, they are an attempt at retribution and a warning for others not the get in the way of the American arms business.

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common dress code

"the beard'n'sandal crowd are receiving an extremely sympathetic hearing from high court beaks"

The Arabs or the CAATs/vegans?

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Anonymous Coward

Just Blair?

Some of us remember whose deal it was in the first place.

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Alien

Black Gold from Mother Earth Channelled into Individual Bank Accounts...

...... whilst the Child Starves in the Open. Pornography.

"(That said, Prince Bandar has not contested a US court order granted to federal anti-corruption investigators which has frozen his Stateside BAE cash.)" ...... When its dollars, it doesn't really matter, does it?

An Alien Perspective or Harry LimeLight?

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Paris Hilton

yeah but who cares.

so we paid a few bribes so that we could keep a few jobs and sell some jet fighters - good work if you ask me..

I don't understand why we need to get so bleeding self-righteous here in the UK, I'm mean the French government have been illegally (under EU rules) subsidising their industries/companies for years (renault et al) or making it illegal/impossible for non-french companies to buy their utilities. How come uk water and elec is run by the likes of eon and suez..

Paris, cos that's where it all goes down...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why go after BAE ?

Exactly right.

this issue surfaces every time the Saudi government (or ruling family) decide they will buy british over american (eurofighter typhoon over F35 Lightening 2 - mind you BAe have a big stake in both aircraft)

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Just Blair

So we do, so we do. It saddens me that those in power are so secure in their position that they can do all this with impunity now, where before they at least tried to pretend that they were innocent. I seem to remember that it was Britain, and Churchill in particular, who helped the Saudi Royal family to create Saudi Arabia. Was it not Persia before ? I will have to go over my notes again, but the middle east has been pretty much a mess since 4000 BC. Before that it was said to be a veritable paradise, an Eden no less, before the wind changed.

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Stop

i'll tell you who cares...

...anyone with half a grasp of economics, that's who. The arms industry does bugger-all for the UK; it takes out through lost ECGD subsidies far more than it puts back in contributions and employment. Those precious "jobs" that might be "lost" any time anyone says maybe it's a bad idea to sell weapons to dangerous foreign dictators who'll turn them against us at the drop of a hat? Each one of those jobs costs the UK taxpayer twenty grand a year. If we paid every single arms industry employee fifteen grand a year to say home in bed, we'd be better off. There's nothing in it for the rest of us; the profits on those deals goes to a small bunch of executives and shareholders, the costs and risks go to the taxpayer, it's a win-win for them and a dead loss for the rest of us.

And you think /that/'s worth fawning and grovelling and kowtowing to a foreign tyrant for while he issues backhanded threats to spread murder and mayhem on our streets?

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

Bad timing for me, I just got offered a job with BAE this week and now I'm going to have to defend the company to everyone I know (who were already moaning that I would be helping develop "things wot kill peeps").

Anonymous cos... er... I don't want anyone to have a go at me for working for them

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Pirate

@AC

Privatising national infrastructure is a policy the EU is copying from the UK, but having seen the results here, our continental partner are less than keen on a speedy implementation because their workers will block it using their superior employment rights. Rights that the supposedly socialist UK gov won't give us.

The French will open their energy markets when EDF have bought up all the competition. In the meantime, the British worker gets screwed over but at least the fat cats and politicians get their cream.

</rant>

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Ian

What a load of bollocks

Seriously, I don't give a fuck if BAE played dirty to get a deal, if we hadn't the yanks, French, Russians or whatever sure as hell would have, and I'd rather it's us staying on their good side than the likes of the Russians with their silencing of political opponents, threats to aim nukes at peaceful nations, assassination of people in foreign nations and incursions into foreign airspace.

Why the hell do some people have to be so politically correct to the point of being self-destructive without being able to see the bigger picture?

It's not like we're seeing the likes of Haliburton investigated and they truly are guilty of some serious crimes, putting people's lives in danger sending them on convoys in Iraq just so they can charge the US government for them so why the hell should selling a bunch of planes to a nation that's only going to use them against nations such as Iran if they get too cocky be a problem right now? Sure situations change, but not that quickly and by the time they do the technology will be obsolete compared to Western military power.

I hate our goverment covering things up as much as the next person, but let's use some common sense here shall we? Pissing off the Saudi's simply so that we can say "we aren't corrupt when it comes to business" whilst the rest of the world continues to reap the benefits of being if not more corrupt?

The day BAE should be brought to account for any bribary is the day the Russian, Chinese, French and American arms businesses all equally should be brought to charge and that isn't going to be any time soon.

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Stop

The price of everything, the value of nothing.

I love the idea that anything is okay as long as it means making money, or can be justified as, "They are doing it too!" Here in America that is typical of the Republican party and their "conservatives." While values and morality are absolutes when it comes to sexuality and who a person is allowed to love, anything else if up for grabs if there is a buck behind it. Bribes undercut the very basis of the capitalistic economy, TRUST. Misinterpreted ideas (more of a middle school understanding than an full adult perspective) of capitalism allow people to take shortcuts and make some money... but oh how they fall. Unfortunately the take so many with them.. innocent investors who trusted that the company would be managed in a long term manner, workers who lose their jobs,... Why do we expect our people to play fair when others don't? Because, we are RESPONSIBLE for that we do.

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Paris Hilton

@ Tim

Well said. Very eloquently spoken. And a F*ck you to all the haters who seem to think that they have a right to judge! FFS, i wouldn't mind betting that all the people, that commented negatively, would give their eye teeth for the ability to provide for their family as this man can. All you have to do is concentrate and work hard. A concept lost on most of the inhabitants of this green and pleasant land!

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Pirate

RE: Darren7160

Yes, it's terrible, all that shady dealing, the lack of trust, grey money and possible criminal activity. But then I'm talking about Bill Clinton (who used his Presidential powers to pardon a convicted drug-dealing relative!), a Democrat Prez. I suggest you go look at the Dimmycrats before frothing on about "conservatives".

General consensus amongst analysts is that the F-22 Lightning2 is the top of the pile in the current crop of fighter aircraft, but that it is so painfully expensive as to make it unrealistic for any country other than the States. In the bunch that come a close second, the Typhoon is considered a very good option, especially with the added ground-attack capability. No analyst has said that the Typhoon will be incapable of fulfilling the RSAAF requirement and none has said it is unrealistically expensive. Remember, one of the Saudi options was buying more F-15S, the improved F-15E, already in RSAAF use, and the analysts seem happy that Typhoon is a better deal.

I have spoken to Saudi pilots at Farnborough and they said that whilst the F-15 Eagle was the mount their pilots bragged about, they actually liked their Tornadoes, and many (pilots, I'm sure not the ground crews!) were sorry to see the old EE Lightnings go. It seems they have a lot of confidence in aircraft sourced from the UK, and there is also the bonus that the same aircraft are not being supplied to the Israelis (the RSAAF were taunted by other Arab countries of copying the IAF when they bought Eagles in 1981). The RSAAF would have loved to have bought the F-22 just to be able to claim they had - for the first time since 1948 - actually got a technological edge over the hated Israelis, but the F-22 was too expensive and came with too many US restrictions on technology. All of which seems to have given the Typhoon the edge to make it number two to the F-22 in their estimations, and eventual winner due to the F-22's pricetag. Any "consulting payments" made to the al-Saud's just are typical of business in the Arab world.

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Go

WTF?!

I can well remember the call-girls debacle towards the end of my time at BAE, but this article is the first thing I've bothered reading about the current controversy... and I'm surprised to say that it doesn't look too shady.

As a background, the Saudi's have intel that (we are told) MI5&co find useful. (If it isn't useful then the deal may as well be off anyway.)

It would not be unusual for a government to offer compensation ranging from cash, policy and political favours through to military support in return for that kind of information. In this case we don't need to pay a penny, just help some guy in saudi rip off some funds from his own treasury.... AND we get to shift a few Eurofighters into the bargain... If the saudi government, the "victim" in this case doesn't want it investigated then it's probably a good idea to shut up.

@Ian

Right On, It's a common misconception that everyone is only on the take because we,(THE UK) are, infact everyone is on the take because everyone else is on the take and it's the only way to survive, and secretly MOST of those would be on the take even if nobody else was. Bizarely enough most people who are so misinformed also think the EU is a great idea, when it's a classic alliance of thieves!

Re: Hmmm

Easily explained matey, just list the huge number of peace keeping and humanitarian ops that BAE kit is being used for (including SAR stuff off the coast), admittedly this has got harder in the last five years. If they don't believe that our boarders need defending (The Falklands for example.) then it's just not worth explaining since they'll end up citing "Dr Strangelove" "Wargames" "Spooks" "Imagine" and ultimately "99 red baloons".

If you're not working in air systems they you just blame Air Systems who were responsible for this SNAFU...

If you are working for air systems then you'll spend...

5% of your time being patronised by upper management

5% of your time quibelling with client departments over how many hours they owe you for last week,

5% in statutory meetings, I actually started to play bullshit bingo.

10% of your time fighting with peter-principle over promoted middle managers

30% of your time explaining very basic concepts (ohm's law, integration, what the on switch does) to incompetent fools that middle-management recruited (see last point.)

5% of your time explaining to the client department that you've been very busy.

10% fighting with HR.

10% ACTUAL PRODUCTIVE WORK

10% web surfing, drinking coffee and chatting to your mates about how you REALLY need to get slaughtered tonight.

So you can look any given tosser in the eye and say that you don't actually work there, they just pay your wages. In the event that you are moved onto a project with more immediate implications, they will ask you if you mind.

If your mates honestly believe that you are utterly unaware of the moral and ethical implications then they don't actually respect you and why the hell are you calling them "friend"? (BTW CAAT, Trident ploughshares, Dykes on Bikes et-al often picket BAE sites, and genuinely do believe that defence workers don't think about that side of things.)

BAE Systems is criminally mismanaged, and I've ranted about this time and time again. That's a seperate issue from the moral status of the defence industry.

@amanfrommars

That very nearly made sense, well done!

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eh?

I don't understand all this. So BAE supposedly payed Prince Bandar more then £1bn(fuck thats a lot) so that he in turn could pay them £4.4bn for the deal????

So BAE are effectively selling the Eurofighters and support etc. for £3bn? Why not sell it for £3bn then and not swap cash under the table?

Someone clear this up for me?

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violation of National security

Blair was a liar when he halted investigations on an issue that looks profitable for his own pocket ,not for national security.

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All you have to do is concentrate and work hard....... Really?

"Anonymous cos... er... I don't want anyone to have a go at me for working for them" .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Saturday 16th February 2008 19:04 GMT

Ideally we should all be working for them, AC, providing them with Intelligent Solutions. But whom would One contact with a Mass Security Weapon/CyberIntelAIgent Facility?

Do they have one of these to Service and Provision .... http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2008/02/cyber_command?currentPage=all

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Pirate

To Arms!

Well we've now got a load of Saudi-funded Eurofighters on the way (that we could 'appropriate' for 'national security reasons' with no trouble), plus an arms industry that's doing well, plus we're allied with a warmongering, oil-loving tyrant who doesn't like the middle east too much... And we've got a nice pile of nukes as well. Oh, and most of our armed forces over in that neck of the woods already.

And now they've essentially threatened us with terrorist acts if we don't do what they want. And that was a prince- a national representitive- rather than some random businessman or a scrawny little fool sat in a cave somewhere. In my book that makes it an act of War.

Much as I'm not a fan of war, I'm far less a fan of Great Britain bowing to any other nation. Especially one so cowardly and barbaric as the Saudis clearly are. Lets wipe them out and show the world we're still great. Or get the Yanks to help as well, in return for some of that Saudi black gold.

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Anonymous Coward

@James RE:eh?

If you work for a government and are given a budget $1Million to spend on a project and one of the candidates offer you $200,000 to give them the deal for the full $1Millwhich they pay into your private bank account or give to you as a nice house or holiday as a gift then you might be tempted to go with that company even if you could fulfill the project for $800,000 via someone else.

Money that is assigned to a project can't easily be siphoned into an individuals pocket if the project is properly audited.

If you have worked a long time in IT then you must have been offerred kick backs or at least a free golfing trip or something from a supplier in the past?

Hence the reason most contracts state that any gifts must be declared and considered company property unless told otherwise.

It's called bribery and corruption on some levels....

I hope that clears it up for you?

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In this case

I can't really get worked up about it. As far as I can see the Sudi Royals consider the country's wealth to be their own so all that's going on here is one price getting his hand further in the till than the other.

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@Ian

> "Why the hell do some people have to be so politically correct to the point of being self-destructive without being able to see the bigger picture?"

"Politically correct"?! WTF are you dribbling about? It's got nothing to to with that, it's about why the hell should BAE be above the law and not - for example - me?

If you think it's OK, I'm coming round to burgle your house and kill your dog. I don't expect to hear any complaints from you, and I'll dismiss them as politically-correct whingeing if you do - oh, and then I'll justify it by saying "Why should you stop me when there are all these other burglars in foreign countries getting away with it?". Because that's how specious your argument is: it's really nothing more than than the claim that two wrongs make a right.

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Re: Hmm

Why should you NOT tell your employer when they are doing wrong? Do they say they won't listen to criticism? Do they say they DO shoot the messenger?

Are your only options to oppose them from the outside because you are not allowed to tell them different?

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@@Ian

"<rant rant> kill your dog <rant rant>"

Try to read what you reply to.

Ian's wondering why we're screwing up a multi billion pound deal to make some point about justice when there are plenty of far more serious, far clearer cut cases to answer. Infact he even expressed outrage that Haliburton were practically murdering their own staff for a few extra bucks.

Another example:

The Mirror's decision to run the faked torture pictures back in 2004 was clear-cut sensationalism for circulation. It had predictably devastating effects on peacekeeping in Iraq and troop morale. Troops, civilians and insurgents all died just so some people could make money for LIES. Yet where's the witch hunt? Where are the people serving prison sentences fitting manslaughter and conspiracy?

With the different jurisdictions involved, (Remember at least one party to the alleged fraud is a Saudi Prince, and could easily claim diplomatic immunity.) and lack of corpses the BAE case is far less clearcut and even if true, has far fewer victims.

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@@Ian2

Ian, your forgetting something important, since 2001 any bribery in relation to an arms deal has been illegal under UK law.

The SFO were only notified of this bribery in February 2001.

Therefore if there was any bribery going on then it would have been going on before it became illegal.

Does this mean that I because I smoked in a pub before the smoking ban I should be charged for it now??

Of course it doesn't, so why should BAE Systems be held convicted of something that at the time wasn't illegal?

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