Campaigners highlight apparent immunity given to BAE
as Serious Fraud Office brings plea bargain settlement to court

first published 22 November 2010

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is going to Court on Tuesday 23 November (at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London) to seek approval of its plea bargain settlement made with BAE Systems in February this year over the company’s sale of a military radar system to Tanzania in 1999. (At this preliminary hearing, a date will be set for a final hearing in 2011.)

The SFO had been investigating alleged corruption in the sale, but BAE will plead guilty only to a breach of duty to keep accounting records in relation to payments made to a marketing adviser in Tanzania.

The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have written to the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), urging him to bring to the Court’s attention the SFO's undertaking as part of the settlement never to prosecute any individual in future if doing so involves alleging BAE Systems was guilty of corruption.

Despite repeated requests, the SFO has not released further details of this undertaking.

CAAT and The Corner House contend that the undertaking would limit future SFO prosecutions and, as such, would appear to make the plea bargain unlawful.