View Full Version : British firms face bribery blacklist, warns corruption watchdog

David Guyatt
02-01-2011, 10:50 AM
Now there's an oxymoron for you: corruption watchdog.

It has a nice wholesome ring about it.

Colgate confidence perhaps.


British firms face bribery blacklist, warns corruption watchdog

Attempts to limit Bribery Act weaken competitiveness, says Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

David Leigh
guardian.co.uk, Monday 31 January 2011 21.03 GMT

British arms manufacturer BAE was fined $400m in the US last year.

British companies may face international blacklisting as a result of the government's attempts to water down the Bribery Act, the chairman of an international anti-corruption watchdog warned.

Prof Mark Pieth said that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was obviously "disappointed and concerned" at the prospect of further obstruction in implementing the act, passed by the last Labour government after long delays and that patience was "running out fast" among other industrialised nations.

But he went on: "I would personally put it stronger. This move will hurt the competitiveness of British industry at a moment when it is most vulnerable. Allowing companies to continue to generate business by bribery actually weakens their competitive clout as they become dependent on illegal means."

In 2008, the OECD's bribery working party conducted a highly critical inspection of the UK, following the enforced closedown of criminal investigations into corruption allegations against the arms company BAE under political pressure from Tony Blair.

Pieth said: "The OECD has in October 2008 ... already threatened to blacklist British companies if they remained under-regulated, and patience is running out fast. Competitors are getting ready to take robust action against the UK in the light of continued lack of compliance with international law." French, German and US companies are believed to be becoming increasingly irritated with what are perceived as attempts by UK companies to steal a march on other countries by fuelling corruption in the developing world.

Pieth added that, despite renewed lobbying against the act by UK business interests, "the new law is by no means stricter than the laws of other OECD member states".

John Cridland, new head of the CBI employers' group, claimed today that the recently passed act was "not fit for purpose". Companies claim the new rules lack clarity and could harm British exports at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get.

The new anti-corruption rules were designed to bring the UK closer in line with the US, which has taken a far tougher approach in rooting out graft in foreign business deals.

The coalition government promised in July to publish guidance for companies on how the new laws would be applied "early in the new year", but this has now been delayed. Ministry of Justice officials could not say when the guidance might be published.The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, has now said that the act will not come into force until "three months" after any guidance is published, meaning the anticipated April deadline will be missed.

The Ministry of Justice said today: "We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. We will come forward with further details in due course."

Last year, BAE was fined $400m in the US to settle corruption investigations brought under the strict Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, following exposure by the Guardian of a system of worldwide secret payments. The company was fined a much smaller sum of £500,000 in a settlement with the Serious Fraud Office, in which it was agreed the word "corruption" would not be mentioned.

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, executive director of Transparency International, said Clarke's decision to delay implementation was "disastrous news". He said it "raised serious doubts about the credibility of the government's commitment to the Bribery Act, which was passed in the last parliament on the basis of an all-party consensus".

Jan Klimkowski
02-01-2011, 05:27 PM
Cue Little Englander outrage from government and business lobby groups: how dare Johnny Foreigner accuse British companies of being unethical. We need less regulation, not more......

Indeed, I believe the Little Teuton, Prince Andrew, has got his retaliation in first as Britain's "Roving Ambassador for Business":

Prince Andrew launched a scathing attack on British anticorruption investigators, journalists and the French during an "astonishingly candid" performance at an official engagement that shocked a US diplomat.

Tatiana Gfoeller, Washington's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, recorded in a secret cable that Andrew spoke "cockily" at the brunch with British and Canadian business people, leading a discussion that "verged on the rude".

During the two-hour engagement in 2008 at a hotel in the capital, Bishkek, Andrew, who travels the globe as a special UK trade representative, attacked Britain's corruption investigators in the Serious Fraud Office for what he called "idiocy".

He went on to denounce Guardian reporters investigating bribery as "those (expletive) journalists … who poke their noses everywhere".

In the cable from the US embassy to Washington in October 2008, Gfoeller wrote: "Rude language à la British … [Andrew] turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anticorruption investigators, who had had the 'idiocy' of almost scuttling the al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia."

The prince, she explained, "was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces".

The dispatch continued: "His mother's subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to 'these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National [sic] Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere' and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business. The crowd practically clapped."


Magda Hassan
08-19-2013, 12:13 PM
Can't wait to read more on this once it is out from behind the pay wall.

Found: BAE files lost in SFO blunder ended up in this warehouse SFO’s ‘Al Yamamah’ cache was in storage next to cannabis farm in London’s Docklands By Frederika Whitehead (http://www.exaronews.com/author/frederika-whitehead) and Mark Watts (http://www.exaronews.com/author/mark-watts) | 19 August 2013
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Pic: Exaro

http://www.exaronews.com/system/files/styles/article-stack/private/2013-08/warehouse-outside_0.jpg?itok=TVkbDLq6 (http://www.exaronews.com/system/files/styles/lightbox/private/2013-08/warehouse-outside_0.jpg?itok=_G8jFlLt)Secrets: Docklands warehouse

You were really on to something

Emily Thornberry, shadow attorney general

Confidential documents that were lost by the Serious Fraud Office from an investigation into Britain’s biggest arms deal were sent to this Docklands warehouse.
Exaro has pieced together the inside story of how the SFO mislaid 32,000 pages, 81 audio tapes plus electronic media after gathering them during a six-year investigation into BAE Systems over bribery allegations under ‘Al Yamamah’, a rolling deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
The SFO already faces questions about its future following a series of exposes by Exaro (http://www.exaronews.com/articles/4942/sfo-poised-to-drop-investigation-into-claims-of-saudi-bribes).
This is only a summary. For the full story, log in to Exaro.

Magda Hassan
08-21-2013, 01:23 PM
The above Exaro article is available for rerading but only on their web: site http://www.exaronews.com/articles/5074/found-bae-files-lost-in-sfo-blunder-ended-up-in-this-warehouse

And what an interesting read it is. Would still like more like the documents themselves though.

David Guyatt
08-22-2013, 07:36 AM
Imagine that? Six years investigation and important confidential files "mislaid" - and later found in am Dockland warehouse next door to a cannabis farm.