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Join the people's jury

2010 April 7
by admin

BAE, arms supplier to some of the world’s most despicable regimes, has once again escaped real sanctions for corruption in its deadly deals.

In 2006, BAE escaped the process of justice when Tony Blair quashed the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into BAE’s multi-billion pound – and corruption-riddled – deals with Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes. This year, the Serious Fraud Office allowed BAE to buy its way out of trouble. In return for pleading guilty to “accounting irregularities” in its deals with Tanzania, it would end its investigations into BAE’s activities in South Africa, Romania and the Czech Republic.

BAE’s Chairman, Dick Olver, has dismissed criticism, claiming the deals are “historical. Almost archaeological.” We disagree. The repercussions of BAE’s behaviour are felt by civilians across the world – those whose lives are devastated by conflict, those who live under corrupt and repressive regimes, and those who see money needed for health, education and infrastructure diverted to arms. Here in the UK, we find ourselves subsidising an international company that is seemingly above the law.

We may not be able to see BAE held to account in a courtroom, but we’re not letting them off the hook. At their AGM on 5 May, BAE did not escape justice in the court of public opinion.  The People’s Jury  unanimously found a 12 foot BAE Chair guilty while the real Dick Olver was held to account inside the AGM.  See photos and a film of the action here.

Have your say too! Comment here to add your own judgement to the public record.

Disagree with what we’re doing? Then have your say on our debate page.

19 Responses leave one →
  1. Barnaby Pace permalink
    April 9, 2010

    BAE and the British government have been getting away with bribery, corruption, not the mention the murder inherent in the arms trade for far far too long. Substantive allegations of bribery surround BAE’s deals in countries all over the world. Only the incompetence and unwillingness to punish BAE from the UK and US has stopped BAE being caught in one of the largest bribery scandals of all time. The SFO would have us believe that all that they could find was false accounting in relation to the appalling corrupt radar deal to Tanzania and proceeded to drop cases relating to arms deals in Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Qatar and Chile. Including the individual prosecution of one of BAE’s agents since 1992 Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly. In return BAE has paid a piddling £30m, they have paid their way out of a criminal investigation.

    BAE’s actions, its products and its bribery has and will cost the lives of thousands around the world. Whether they are at the receiving end of a BAE bullet used by an authoritarian regime or die of AIDS because the money to buy medecine was spent on weapons so that a politician could collect a bribe it will be BAE and the UK government’s complicity that will have cause the death of that innocent person.

    The UK government and BAE ought to be ashamed. Stop the deadly arms trade, stop deadly corruption and stop the profits made from death.

  2. April 11, 2010

    In November 2009 Dick Olver, the Chairman of BAE Systems, gave a lecture on the theme ‘Solving Global Challenges demands Ethical Leadership. In it, he said ‘Having worked all my life for engineering multinationals, I’ve come to the view that these businesses have a huge responsibility – and ability – to help developing countries with nation-building.
    If you look at Transparency International’s league table of global corruption, you’ll see that there are precious few consistently successful economies towards the bottom of the list. It follows that endemic corruption is a barrier to economic success. By definition, these countries need higher ethical standards in business conduct to help them develop economically, and ultimately improve the wellbeing of their people.’
    Andrew Feinstein’s testimony is an eloquent illustration of the way BAE ‘helped’ the young South African democracy with nation-building and ‘improved the wellbeing’ of South Africans living with HIV and AIDS.
    In arguing for the importance of ethical leadership and transparency, Dick Olver presented BAE as a leader, following the introduction of their new Global Code of Conduct. If they are so committed to transparency and have nothing to hide, why are they going to such lengths to avoid daylight being shone into their business dealings, even those that are ‘historical, almost archaeological’?
    There have been repeated allegations of bribery and corruption against BAE. Now that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped the investigation into the Al Yamamah case relating to Saudi Arabia, no doubt under political pressure, and following the recent plea bargain, the serious allegations relating to bribery and corruption in BAE’s arms deals in the Czech Republic, South Africa and Romania, as well as in Tanzania, are never likely to come to court. So the truth may never be known.
    In his comments in the recent case of Innospec (‘Guardian’, 26 March 2010), Mr Justice Thomas cast serious doubts on the legality of the plea bargain negotiated by the SFO. “The director of the SFO had no power to enter into the arrangements made and no such arrangements should be made again,” he said. So if anyone could afford to challenge the SFO’s arrangements with BAE in the higher courts, it seems that they might well be found to be illegal.
    No company or individual, however wealthy or powerful, should be above the law.

    The greatest threat to human security is climate change. Why are BAE not re-deploying the skills of their engineers to put the UK at the leading edge of the technological innovations required for the transition to a low-carbon economy, and create British jobs, responding to the massive challenges of climate change? It appears that they prefer to transfer jobs to the USA, and stay in the dinosaur business of ‘persuading’ developing countries to spend their scarce resources on procuring ‘defence’ equipment totally unsuited to their needs, rather than ‘the wellbeing of their people’.

    • Mary Holmes permalink
      May 6, 2010

      What an absolutely excellent comment

  3. Pat Allen permalink
    April 12, 2010

    I’m in complete agreement with the statement made above. Of all the legal/financial scandals to make the headlines in recent times this is surely the most disgraceful and the most serious when one considers all the implications. We must continue our campaigning on this issue.

  4. Marcia Kia Simpson-James permalink
    April 16, 2010

    The deal that BAE and the SFO cut was almost an affront to decency. The case should have been allowed to run its course and the public should have been all0wed to hear the evidence for themselves.

    To stop this amounts to the abuse of the ‘estoppel’ principle. I’m saddened that government lawyers feel so impotent, where these large arms firms are concerned, that they are prepared to compromise. The circumstances were never so desperate for this deal to be cut, I hope the government never cuts a similar plea bargain to this one ever again. Many hundreds of thousands of lives depend on it!

  5. Lucy Scatizzi permalink
    April 16, 2010

    Progress would be using the technological knowhow currently used on weapons on lifegiving, environmentally sound solutions to the problems that cause conflict????
    Seems obvious to me.

  6. Euan Davidson permalink
    April 18, 2010

    It is disguting the regimes which arms giants like BAE cavort with and its time some one put a stop to it!

  7. barbara Kentish permalink
    April 19, 2010

    I am outraged by the way BAE has been let off the hook over the deal in Saudi, but mainly by their operations in South Africa, which is suffering greatly from the corrupt deal in 1998-9. Arms dealing is the biggest threat to development.

  8. barbara Kentish permalink
    April 19, 2010

    I totally agree with Andrew Feinstein. The effects of corruption can be seen in the rural areas of South Africa. Abject poverty. Nothing diferent from what was seen before the end of apartheid.

  9. Sarah Reader permalink
    April 19, 2010

    BAE Systems represent everything that’s wrong with our economic system. That companies should be able to put profits before people and carry out such corruption and fraud (let alone build weapons and weapons systems which have no other end but to cause death and destruction) is disgraceful.

    I hope government lawyers recognise the seriousness of their mistake in letting BAE off the hook and start putting the interests of people and the promotion of peace first. Given the unlikelihood of this happening soon, we have to keep the pressure up on BAE and the government. See you at the BAE AGM on 5 May!

  10. Ricky permalink
    April 20, 2010

    I think Blair’s revelation that an inquiry via the SFO would have considerate financial consequences just about says it all! It’s total corruption…keep up the campaigning, and make those responsible answer the charges!

  11. Sheila Mary Muirhead permalink
    April 22, 2010

    All military activity poses an enormous environmental threat – the military still use CFCs for example and a jet plane can use 4 gallons of jet fuel per second, so my question is, “Would BAE cutback on their arms trading, as they may have to do if our government stops subsidising them, and use their skilled workers for more constructive purposes in the renewable energy, home and business insulation or public and sustainable transport systems?

  12. Charmian Kenner permalink
    April 24, 2010

    BAE must be held to account for the bribery and corruption that have led to the deaths of so many people.

  13. Ian Pocock permalink
    April 25, 2010

    BAE have been allowed to get away with criminal actions for far too long and the £30m fine they received for accounting offences was desultory, as well as not holding them to account on the more serious charges of bribery. Their claims to support UK industry through the jobs they provide are proved to be false as they cut 1,116 jobs in the UK last year. This company needs to be kept in check by the government.

  14. David Marchesi permalink
    April 30, 2010

    As well as the most publicised cases, BAE or one of its subsidiaries is no doubt engaged in supplying at least some components to Israel. In the crazy, nefarious world of arms dealing, I would also like to know if BAE has any agreements with the Israeli military industries to buy from them.

  15. Mary Holmes permalink
    May 6, 2010

    These folk at BAE Systems are in denial about what they do. If you read their lengthy Annual Report it’s about ‘total performance’, ’employees all living its values’ and even ‘progress towards a recognised leadership position on the corporate responsibility agenda’. You won’t find ugly words like attack & kill anywhere in that glossy document.

  16. June 10, 2010

    The arms industry sickens me.

  17. Beryl Howard permalink
    August 3, 2010

    Keep up your excellent work ! I’m completely with you.

  18. September 10, 2010

    From Joseph Deery, by post:

    BAE’s big bucks ALSO buy off the US Justice Department – $100million and a mere $30million for the same to SFO. Cosy!

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