Home News UK MoD Enables Bribes to Saudi Prince in Arms Deal – Guardian

UK MoD Enables Bribes to Saudi Prince in Arms Deal – Guardian

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UK MoD Enables Bribes to Saudi Prince in Arms Deal – Guardian

Two people accused of corruption acquitted after showing British court they acted with London’s blessing

Senior British defense officials consciously continued very high “anachronistic” British court documents have revealed payments to the son of a former Saudi defense minister while withholding key evidence from the investigation into the deal. The practice is said to have continued even after it caused a major scandal under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Emails and memos shedding light on the arrangements, many of which are classified as confidential and sensitive, were revealed as part of a bribery case that ended in London last week. The payments related to the so-called al-Yamamah arms deal of the 1980s, the largest arms export in modern British history. The recipient of the funds was Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, the son of the then Saudi defense minister, who played a key role in negotiating the contracts.

The Guardian newspaper revealed the government’s involvement in the affair in 2003 and the connection to the prince in 2007, detailing the newly revealed documents on Monday.


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Money from Ministry of Defense accounts was sent to Saudi Arabia on a quarterly basis starting in 1988. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) opened an investigation into the payments in 2004, targeting arms giant BAE. However, two years later, the Blair government stopped the inquiry, saying that its continuation would harm the national interest.

British officials were well aware that the money was being used to cover the prince’s personal expenses, such as his private jet, according to new evidence. This arrangement was named by Stephen Pollard, a senior military official “still anachronistic” in one report, but argued that stopping payments would mean “Risk of displeasing key Saudis.” In 2008, the Ministry of Defense introduced a new, less conspicuous mechanism for the transfer of funds.

The UK trial was the second attempt by the SFO to prosecute two individuals, Jeffrey Cook and John Mason, whom it accused of paying bribes to several Saudi royals. The first case was thrown out by a judge after it emerged that the Department of Defense had failed to provide key evidence. Both were acquitted by Southwark Crown Court last Wednesday.

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Mason, 81, and another person, former British Army officer Ian Foxley, said they intended to sue the government. Mason claims unfair prosecution. Foxley is a whistleblower who sent evidence of alleged corruption to the SFO. He claimed he had to flee Saudi Arabia due to the threat of arrest after reporting his concerns to superiors, who allegedly informed Riyadh about him.

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