Shining a spotlight on arms trade corruption

The Attorney General’s office has been sitting on corruption charges in relation to arms deals with Saudi Arabia for nearly two years.

A new Attorney General (the government’s chief legal adviser) was appointed in February and her approval is necessary for the case to proceed. CAAT is calling on her to ensure the case moves forward. Add your voice.

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What’s it all about?

In 2010 a company called “GPT Special Operations Management”, a subsidiary of Airbus, agreed a £2 billion deal to supply communications equipment to the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

The same year a whistle blower fled the country after uncovering evidence that GPT used tens of millions of pounds of illicit payments and gifts to secure the deal.

The Serious Fraud Office began investigating the allegations in 2012, and in March 2018 it requested a prosecution. Yet nearly two years on, nothing has happened. No explanation has been given for the delay.

A new Attorney General, Suella Braverman, was appointed in February 2020. We are calling on her to give consent for the prosecution to proceed now.

The Saudi Arabian National Guard

The National Guard is a ‘second army’ which helps keep the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia in power, guarding against internal dissent.

These troops also supported the repression of democracy protests in Bahrain, using UK-made armoured vehicles.

March 2011: Saudi forces enter Bahrain in UK-made armoured vehicles to support the repression of democracy protests. The Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) ordered 261 of the vehicles in 2006.

SANGCOM

SANGCOM is a military communications project supplying the National Guard. The UK Ministry of Defence has signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Saudi Arabian Government; it then places contracts with UK prime contractors to fulfil the UK’s obligations. The contract is with what is now GPT Special Project Management Ltd.  More than 75 UK civil servants and military personnel work for SANGCOM – with Saudi Arabia reimbursing the cost.

The UK has a shameful history on arms trade corruption.

In 2006, BAE escaped the process of justice when Tony Blair – under pressure from Saudi Arabia – quashed another investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into BAE’s multi-billion pound Al Yamamah deals with Saudi Arabia. described at the time as the “biggest UK sale ever of anything to anyone”

CAAT’s ‘People’s Jury’ holding BAE to account. Picture credit: Przemek Wajerowicz

While the UK government blocked the investigation, (despite opposition in the courts from CAAT) the US Department for Justice later sentenced BAE to pay a $400 million criminal fine in relation to its deals in Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. It found that BAE had made “hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to third parties, while knowing of a high probability that money would be passed on to foreign government decision-makers to favour BAE in the award of defence contracts”.

Like the Al Yamamah case, the GPT case concerns another deal brokered by the UK government with Saudi Arabia. Will the government again try to stop prevent justice being done?

We’re taking action now to make it harder for them to sweep this under the carpet too.

Please add your voice and ask the Attorney General to prioritise the rule of law and the UK’s international obligations over the interests of arms companies and the repressive regimes they supply.

 

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

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