An previous investigation by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into reports BAE paid about 1 billion pounds over a decade to Prince Bandar bin Sultan in connection with the al-Yamamah arms deal had been halted in December 2006 by former Prime Minister Tony Blair after the probe angered Saudi Arabia.
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL INVOLVEMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA / AL YAMAMAH BAE ARMS SCANDAL
June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, a Japanese refiner and solar-equipment maker, rose to the highest in nine months after saying it will build solar plants in Saudi Arabia to expand its alternative energy business.
Excerpts: Freeh said that a 1985 treaty between Britain and Saudi Arabia allowed the trade of oil for weapons. BAE signed an $86-billion contract with the Saudis under the provisions of the treaty, and the funds that flowed between Britain and the Bandar-controlled bank accounts in the U.S. may have come from the sale of Saudi oil under the terms of the contract. "We did not invent corruption," Prince Bandar bin Sultan tells Bergman. "This has happened since Adam and Eve. . . . This is human nature."
But the biggest case was always the Al Yamamah probe, which became even more explosive after it emerged that the SFO was investigating allegations that the company had paid more than £1bn to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington. Prince Bandar has also always denied wrongdoing. The scrapping of the Saudi case on national security grounds proved a pyrrhic victory for BAE, however, as it triggered a wave of criticism of the company and was followed by the launching of other investigations around the world.
There may be no silver lining in a story that involves Iran being able to spend untold millions on its weapons procurement, but at least this UK institution's actions debunk the popular myth that it is only the U.S. that will conveniently ignore international norms of behavior for the sake of a reliable oil supply.