The usual suspects…
BRITAIN HAS BEEN ACCUSED of deliberately turning a blind eye to major areas of financial corruption. The charge is made in a high profile report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The outspoken criticism of Britain follows a detailed review of British “antibribery” practices – and their limitations. That review was initiated after Britain’s Serious Fraud Office ( SFO) in 2006 dropped its investigation into allegations that BAE Systems had paid large bribes to help secure a massive £43bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal’s origins went back into the late Eighties, when there was a Conservative government.
But it was the New Labour administration under then Prime Minister Tony Blair that pressured the SFO to abandon its corruption probe. That was because trade relations generally with Saudi Arabia were regarded as extremely important.
Some parallels will be seen here, of course, with the long-running dispute over South Africa’s £5bn arms deal in 1999 with various European firms, crucially from France and Britain. Some critics allege bribes were paid to various ANC ministers and/or their party to secure the deal.
The OECD says, with particular reference to the Saudi Arabian affair: “The continued failure of Britain to address deficiencies in its laws of bribery of foreign public officials and on corporate liability for foreign bribery has hindered investigations.”