Saturday, February 06, 2010

BAE corruption in Tanzania

BAE deal with Tanzania: Military air traffic control – for country with no airforce.

Cabinet ministers Claire Short and Robin Cook had tried to stop the sale of the hugely expensive radar to the poverty- stricken Tanzanians. But, Tony Blair as prime minister, overruled them and insisted that the deal had to go through.

Cook ruefully muttered that it seemed that Dick Evans, BAE's then chairman, seemed to have "the key to the garden door of No 10".

The World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation judged that the 2001 £28 million purchase was unnecessary and overpriced. The Serious Fraud Office discovered that a third of the contract's price had been diverted into secret offshore bank accounts. The SFO believed that this money was used to pay bribes to Tanzanian politicians and officials.

The SFO discovered that the money had gone into a Swiss bank account controlled by Sailesh Vithlani, a middleman of Indian extraction with a British passport.

He left Tanzania after the country's anti-corruption unit accused of lying to investigators. He is listed as wanted by Interpol.One Tanzanian politician, Andrew Chenge, was forced to resign in 2008 after investigators discovered more than £500,000 in a Jersey bank account he controlled.

The arms giant yesterday agreed to pay out almost £300m in penalties, as it finally admitted guilt over its worldwide conduct.BAE will not face international blacklisting from future contracts, because it has only admitted false accounting, not bribery.The SFO said it was no longer in the public interest to pursue individuals now that it had settled the case with the company.

Dick Olver, the chairman, admitted that BAE "made commission payments to a marketing adviser and failed to accurately record such payments in its accounting records ... The company failed to scrutinise these records adequately to ensure that they were reasonably accurate and permitted them to remain uncorrected."

Uh-huh , just a book-keeping oversight , wasn't it , and of course those are not worthy of criminal proceedings.

Clare Short Development minister at the time , said "Everyone talks about good governance in Africa as though it is an African problem, and often the roots of the 'badness' is companies in Europe."

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