Stung by Exposure, BAE Offers to Reduce Arms Sales Agents
June 20, 2007 (LPAC)--Stung by the exposure of its $80-billion slush fund for promoting war, revolution, and regime change, the British defense giant BAE has proposed a token gesture of reducing the number of independent advisers it uses for foreign arms sales.
The measure is intended, in large part, to try to reduce pressure from the United States, where a pending criminal investigation by the Justice Department, and scrutiny by other government agencies and Congress could foul up BAE attempts at takeover of a major U.S. arms contractor. The independent agents are the lower-level operatives in the bribery and kickback arrangements that form the heart of the company's operating practices, as in the 20-year running [a:href="\/pages\/breaking_news\/2007\/06\/15\/";target=_blank]al Yamamah[/a] deal, arranged between the Margaret Thatcher government and Saudi Prince Bandar.
Mike Turner, BAE's chief executive, said the company would reduce the number of its independent advisers form 240 to "no more than 100 in the near term," according to a report in today's Financial Times of London. He made clear that the principal reason was to whitewash: "Now we have a huge market in the U.S. and we don't take any risks on our reputation," Turner is quoted as saying.
Reducing the number of agents is unlikely to stem the corrupt practices. In 1999, BAE reduced the number of its agents from 600 to 250 when it first entered the U.S. market, but the scandal only grew.