Fraud office is investigating Blairs BAE deal

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  1. Fraud office is investigating £28m deal agreed by Blair

    Members of the Cabinet were overruled by the Prime Minister when they queried a BAE Systems contract in Tanzania, A CONTROVERSIAL deal personally approved by Tony Blair to send a multimillion-pound air traffic control system to Africa is being investigated for corruption, The Times can reveal.

    The Serious Fraud Office and Ministry of Defence police are looking into allegations that BAE Systems paid backhanders to the Tanzanian Government for a £28 million military air traffic control system.

    The Prime Minister overruled Gordon Brown and other Cabinet ministers to approve the deal, despite warnings from the World Bank that it could have bought a non-military system for a tenth of the price.

    Investigators, who have been studying the deal for more than six months, made a fact-finding visit to the House of Commons last Wednesday. They were handed a dossier of evidence compiled by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who has played a key role questioning the deal.

    Investigators are understood to have obtained documents that suggest that there might have been criminal activity connected with the Tanzania deal. The SFO is believed to have questioned a number of employees at BAE, but none of those interviewed has been charged.

    The decision by the Prime Minister to grant an export licence for the BAE system to Tanzania caused a huge row when it was made public in 2001 and the World Bank questioned why Tanzania, which has only eight military aircraft, needed a military system. The deal was financed by a £40 million loan from Barclays Bank, which caused further anger because the debt was paid from aid given to Tanzania by Britain to assist sustainable development, including primary education.

    A spokesman for the World Bank said that it was “a mistake and a disappointment” and experts at the International Civil Aviation Organisation said that it was primarily a military design, which was not adequate for civilian air traffic control use.

    Mr Lamb said that there was no justification for Mr Blair approving the sale of the system. “It is extraordinary that this should get the Prime Minister’s support given his stated commitment to Africa and it is a relief that we may now get to the truth of how this export ever took place.”

    Ms Short confirmed that the police had visited her about six months ago and told her that they had received documents suggesting corruption concerning this contract.

    “Although I never knew any details of corruption, it was always clear that that contract could not have been honestly obtained and I am delighted that the truth is coming to light,” she said.


    MID 2001 The World Bank, left, asks the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to investigate the project

    OCTOBER 2001 An ICAO interim report finds that the BAE system is “not adequate and is too expensive” for civil purposes

    DECEMBER 2001 Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt overrule Gordon Brown and Clare Short to grant BAE a government export licence

    JUNE 2002 The final ICAO report, understood to confirm that the BAE system is too expensive for civilian purposes, is handed to the Tanzanian Government

    In full

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,17129-2451185,00.html
     
  2. Quote (from the full Times article):

    The deal was financed by a £40 million loan from Barclays Bank, which caused further anger because the debt was paid from aid given to Tanzania by Britain to assist sustainable development, including primary education.

    Unquote.

    So, Tony doesn't have much to worry about here then does he? I mean, it's not as if Clare Short has any axe to grind against him. There again...
     
  3. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Good to see BAe being presented in their usual light - allegedly providing inadequate, inappropriate equipment.

    Who would have thought it?