20 November, 2006

Saudi corruption probe (Update)

The Times says that Saudi Arabia is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with the UK unless Tony Blair stops a police investigation into corruption in certain defence contracts.

The day after the Sunday Times (and my original post), the Guardian has run the story in more detail.

The Serious Fraud Office is interested is an alleged slush fund, said to be operated by BAE systems to grease Saudi palms in connection with defence contracts under the so-called al-Yamamah agreement. Several British individuals have been arrested in connection with the affair.

The Saudis do not seem to appreciate that, at the moment, relations between Blair and the police are a little strained , especially on the question of bribes.

For the government's part, it is a mess entirely of their own making. Ministers enthusiastically supported the laws which make such payments illegal, preferring self-righteous moralising to a realistic appraisal of how business is done with these filthy rich , but backward, Arab countries. Consequently, thousands of British jobs are at risk.

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