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UK Bribery Case Linked to Saudi Arms Deals Exposes ‘Deep Corruption’

An ongoing criminal case in a British court has revealed the extent of “deep corruption”, as two men are accused of bribing Saudi Arabian officials in order to secure lucrative defence contracts with the British government, according to a report by the FT yesterday.

It is alleged in the case, which was brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), that the two British defendants made corrupt payments in relation to dealings between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) “for the installation and operation of Saudi military communications networks,” the report states.

In particular, the arrangement saw a former subsidiary of Airbus, GPT Special Project Management, deliver communication services to SANG. The pair, Jeffrey Cook, 67, a former managing director of GPT and John Mason, 81, an accountant and part-owner of some of the firm’s subcontractor companies, stand accused of paying bribes of almost £10 million ($12.5 million) to Saudi officials in order to win business contracts between 2007 and 2012.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood KC told the jury at Southwark Crown Court yesterday: “The Saudi public official recipients did nothing to justify any form of payment… those payments were bribes.”

“There is no proper or legitimate reason why those officials and intermediaries should have been paid the large sums that they received.”

The prosecution also allege that GPT paid “substantial sums of money”, which was used to bribe high-ranking officials in the SANG to obtain “SANGCOM” contracts.

Cook is also charged with one count of misconduct while in public office between 2004 and 2008, when he was an employee of the MoD before his role at GPT. He is said to have sought and received “commissions” in the forms of tens of thousands of pounds in cash and two cars.

Both defendants deny the charges against them, while two other men, both former MoD employees – Terence Dorothy and Peter Austin – were arrested and were under investigation in connection with the case, but were deemed too unwell to face trial.

The case continues and is expected to finish in March 2024. It was halted by a judge last year and a reporting restriction was put in place in anticipation that a retrial could take place at a later date.

Source : MEMO