Eurofighter deal in jeopardy.

#1
Britain is over a barrel after an investigation into arms dealing threatens the Eurofighter contract to Saudi Arabia.

This thing has gone from being a white elephant to a weight around our neck!

Saudi Arabia has given Britain 10 days to halt a fraud investigation into the country's arms trade - or lose a £10 billion Eurofighter contract.

Eurofighter
The Saudi government is on the verge of cancelling the contract

The contract supports up to 50,000 British jobs and there are now fears that the deal may go to France.

The Saudi government is on the verge of cancelling the contract - an extension of one brokered by Margaret Thatcher 20 year ago - because of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of a slush fund for members of the Saudi royal family, according to authoritative sources.

Tony Blair has been told that the deal faces the axe in 10 days unless he intervenes to bring the two-year investigation to a close.

The Saudis are said to be "outraged" by the probe into the activities of companies linked to BAE Systems. The investigation concerns alleged illegal payments made to members of the Saudi royal family and their agents.
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The country's advisers have made clear through diplomatic channels that unless the inquiry is closed, the kingdom's arms business will be taken elsewhere.

The Saudis are understood to have already opened negotiations with the French about buying 36 rival Rafale jets.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that President Jacques Chirac has been to Saudi Arabia twice in recent months to offer full French co-operation on such a deal.

There has since been a series of meetings in Paris. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi national security council secretary general, visited the French president on Wednesday of last week.

Last Monday, an envoy from the Saudi government is understood to have gone to Paris to confirm details of a potential new deal.

At stake is the future of the Al-Yamamah arms deal, Britain's biggest ever overseas defence contract. It is said to have been worth £40 billion to BAE Systems over the past 20 years.

Industry analysts estimate that the Government has benefited from a two per cent handling fee on that sum worth £800 million.

In 2002 a law was brought in to forbid British companies from offering bribes to third parties to secure business.

Mr Blair is being pressured to ask the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to speed up the SFO's investigation to avoid the loss of the Saudi contracts.

Another prominent Cabinet minister is also thought to have approached the Attorney General about the case.

Lord Goldsmith is understood to have been warned that the flow of vital intelligence from the Saudi Government to the British secret services could be impaired following a break between the two governments over the contracts, thereby endangering national security, particularly during the war on terrorism.

However, friends of Lord Goldsmith maintain that he still feels compromised by the way in which he was pressured in 2003 to change his advice to the Government about the legality of the Iraq war.

He is said to be determined to ensure that on this issue no political pressure will be brought to bear upon him in deciding whether or not to bring prosecutions against any BAE Systems executives.

The renewed pressure on the Attorney General comes as the Foreign Office has been trying to smooth relations with the Saudis, with the British ambassador in Riyadh meeting representatives of the Saudi royal family last week-end.

There were early signs last night that a peace deal could be brokered, with suggestions that the UK Government has assured the Saudis that the investigation will be wound up "within a few months".

The Foreign Office today denied that any Government minister would even consider intervening in the inquiry.

A spokesman said: "The Serious Fraud Office is an independent Government department and part of the criminal justice system. Other parts of Government cannot and would not interfere in or prejudice its investigations."

BAE Systems denies that it has done anything wrong. A spokesman said: "We have always co-operated fully with the investigation. We are confident that we have done nothing wrong and we look forward to a swift conclusion."

The Conservatives declined to comment last night.

Norman Lamb, MP, the chief of staff to the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, said if anyone was leaning on the Attorney General that was "scandalous in the extreme". He added: "If you are going to pass anti-corruption legislation then you have to live with the consequences of it when the going gets tough.

"There cannot be any question of interference with a criminal investigation. The idea is abhorrent."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...1/nsaudi01.xml
 
#2
Good. It's about time someone stood up to that particular democracy-free zone.

Lets see. Who should be next on our list in the middle east? Somewhere most of us have seen...?

Hmm.

(Apologies. Didn't have a good tour either time I was there).
 
#3
I spent over 12 years in Saudi Arabia as a civilian & it was the best 12 years of my life, it's no worse than the UK just very different.
I don't see any point in upsetting them & losing a very valuable contract to the French.
Business is business, why does the UK try to interfere with other Countries domestic affairs?.
 
#4
Why are the Saudis so worried? Surely this helps prove their guilt.

If France had any morals they would not offer a deal to the Saudis; not dealing with corrupt regimes etc etc until the Saudis were in the clear.

An article recently suggested far fewer jobs than the 50,000 jobs quoted depend on this contract.

I'm proud that Blair, his cronies and the other parties can be investigated in the cash for honours probe without threatening the police force with loss of funds :roll:
 
#5
Top_Crab said:
I spent over 12 years in Saudi Arabia as a civilian & it was the best 12 years of my life, it's no worse than the UK just very different.
It's a fcuking shitehole whose population is hypocritical, obnoxious, extremely unpleasant and arrogant.

Turn the place into glass and society would not be worse off....
 
#6
the_matelot said:
It's a fcuking shitehole whose population is hypocritical, obnoxious, extremely unpleasant and arrogant.

Turn the place into glass and society would not be worse off....
Sounds like any number of places off the M3, M4, M42 and M62 to me :wink:

Just because our civilisation emerged from the dark ages around 1000 years ago, does not mean it won't do so again. Theirs could just be coming out of one ?
 
#7
crabby said:
Why are the Saudis so worried? Surely this helps prove their guilt.

If France had any morals they would not offer a deal to the Saudis; not dealing with corrupt regimes etc etc until the Saudis were in the clear.

An article recently suggested far fewer jobs than the 50,000 jobs quoted depend on this contract.

I'm proud that Blair, his cronies and the other parties can be investigated in the cash for honours probe without threatening the police force with loss of funds :roll:
Let's not be too naive here. Bungs are a way of life in some parts of the world and middle East/Saudi culture accepts it. Ever paid a bit of bakeesh on holiday in Eygpt? However, to bring it out into the open and potentially embarress members of the Royal family is not the done thing.

I know it is against the "law" but if you want business, it is what you may need to do. I know of someone who is annoyed that he can't win business in one area of the world as he can't match the bungs of competitors. Before I am approached for details he works for a non-uk based company and is not resident:D

Agree the numbers involved will be less than 50,000 but the loss of a 50Bn project and potentially losing all the rest of the UK business in that country (which runs to a huge amount once you take into consideration the oil industry) will hurt the UK purse.

Frankly, whilst we are going through an investigation into "cash for peerages" ourselves, it is a bit rich for people to get on to the high horse about this. Perhaps we should set our own house in order first? :roll:

If we wnat to influence the Saudi's to a more corrrect business model, a lower profile discussion at a political level would be the way ahead here.
 
#8
There was a discussion about this on R4 Today a few days ago. The general feel was that this is an attempt by the Saudis to knock the price down a bit and that there isn't any real danger of the deal collapsing.
 
#9
Oh for gods sake lets just get Reid to lean on the police to wrap the whole thing up and then have Tone's old flatmate Charlie declare that prosecuting the case isn't in the public interest and move on. I'm bored of it all by now.
 

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