24 Nov 05. An executive at BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence company, has been arrested and questioned by police as part of an ongoing probe by the Serious Fraud Office into alleged corrupt practices. Peter Wilson, BAE managing director of international programmes, was interviewed by detectives on Wednesday and released without charge. The SFO launched its investigation last year to explore the relationship between BAE and two travel companies that hosted Saudi Arabian officials on BAE’s behalf when the Saudis visited the UK. Former employees of the companies have accused BAE of using them to funnel millions of pounds in lavish gifts to Saudi officials during the mid 1990s in order to retain BAE’s lucrative Saudi contracts, known as Al Yamamah. The SFO said Mr Wilson was arrested “on suspicion of corruption contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and conspiracy to corrupt contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977”. On Thursday BAE said Mr Wilson “was arrested by prior arrangement with the SFO. The company and its employees have at all times co-operated with the SFO and the investigation, and will continue to do so.” The SFO has been carrying out the investigation through a combination of informal interviews and arrests. It said it had made five arrests before that of Mr Wilson but would not disclose how many of these were BAE staff. The first two arrests last November included one former BAE official who oversaw the travel and service companies supposed to facilitate trips to the UK by Saudis involved in Al Yamamah. All were released without charge. The SFO and Ministry of Defence police are looking into suspected false accounting related to contracts between BAE and the two travel agents, Robert Lee International and Travellers World.
Comment: The Government continues to shoot itself in the foot in dealing with this matter regarding BAE’s largest customer and a huge generator of income for the U.K. The money deposited with the travel agents was Saudi money for travel arrangements for the UK and Rest of the World, so we understand; much of it to negotiate contracts for UK industry. If the UK Government continues to upset the Saudis there is a huge likelihood of a snub for the ongoing negotiations to buy Typhoon which Thales themselves say is favoured for Eurofighter over Rafael. Any change in fighter purchases to Dassault would certainly destroy the rest of Al Yamamah, but perhaps that’s what this anti-defence government wants? Then we can all work in Balti Bars! (Source: FT)
Nov 05. Thales establishes a commercial representation in the Slovak Republic
In line with its multidomestic strategy, Thales establishes a commercial representation in Bratislava, under the management of Marc Duflot. Thales’ increased presence follows the strong development of the Slovak Republic who is a member of both the European Union and NATO. From now on, Thales’ Slovak customers and local partners can benefit from a domestic presence to meet their requirements. Reinforcing its presence in the Slovak Republic demonstrates Thales’ strategy to cooperate with local industry partners in order to create a solid basis for a mutually beneficial relationship through a progressive transfer of advanced technical know-how. The modernisation of the Slovak Armed Forces who operate alongside other NATO troops and the entering of the country into the Schengen Area, represent key opportunities for Thales. Thanks to this commercial representation, the entire scope of the Thales Group expertise, both technological and commercial, will be closer to the customer and ensure improved availability and efficiency, particularly in managing requests for proposals and implementing large scale programs.
25 Nov 05. RAF St Mawgan: Closure. RAF News confirmed that all military flying is to cease at RAF St Mawgan by April 2007. St Mawgan failed to be selected (17 Nov 05) as a future base for the Joint Combat Aircraft on co