Thursday, July 31, 2008

Court overturns BAE-Saudi probe ruling

AFP: Court overturns BAE-Saudi probe ruling

LONDON (AFP) — The Serious Fraud Office won a legal appeal Wednesday against a ruling that it acted unlawfully by stopping a corruption probe into a huge arms deal between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems.

The House of Lords, the country's highest court, overturned an earlier High Court finding over the investigation into the Al-Yamamah arms deal in 1985, worth 43 billion pounds.

One senior judge, Lord Thomas Bingham, said it was a "courageous decision" to drop the case by the Serious Fraud Office's then director Richard Alderman

"It may indeed be doubted whether a responsible decision-maker could, on the facts before the director, have decided otherwise," he added.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was investigating claims that BAE Systems, one of the world's biggest arms makers, ran a 60-million-pound slush fund for Saudi officials in a bid to attract contracts.