The "Offset" Angle in the BAE Scandal; British Crown Offers Self-Exam

18 de junio de 2007

June 18, 2007 (LPAC)--The "British Offset" program was set up as part of the 1985 deal to sell BAE Systems fighter planes to Saudi Arabia. In return for giving the British some hundred billion dollars worth of oil over and above the value of the aircraft, the Saudis would get offsetting "British investment" in their country. Though this was billed as "infrastructure and services," the flow of cash and personnel would be a private, unchecked, unregulated affair between British and Saudi leaders, alongside the bribes and slush funds that are now making headlines in the exploding BAE scandal

To run the program, an official "Offset Office" was set up in London, under a committee of:

** The head of the Defence Export Services Office (DESO), the government's arms sales/bribery department. DESO is a central feature of the apparatus set up in the 1980s by Crown Agents [The Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, Ltd], the Monarchy's old imperial off-the-books black operations agency;
** UK Trade and Investment department;
** Ministry of Defence;
** "Merchant bank advisers";
** BAE Systems;
** Rolls Royce.

"British Offset" is a global program. A 2001 deal to sell BAE-Saab fighter aircraft to the Czech Republic crashed when a huge scheme to bribe high Czech officials was exposed. The sale was turned into a lease, and BAE/Saab ran a billion dollar "offset" program, whose vague, covert nature has been criticized by the Czechs.

A report on offset programs was published in 2005 by the "anti-corruption" Transparency International, United Kingdom branch (TI-UK), under the title, "Preventing Corruption in the Official Arms Trade Project." It states that "Offsets as a practice are very open to corruption." Before describing the official offset mechanisms, the report explains that "TI-UK has recommended that offsets be banned. This remains the position. However, we do not envisage this happening in the near future, and have therefore adopted an interim position that calls for more careful monitoring of offsets."

Who is to do this "careful monitoring"?

The president of the (7-member) Advisory Council for Transparency International-United Kingdom is Peter Berry, who until May 2007 was the chairman of Crown Agents!

Another member of the TI-UK Advisory Council is Paul Batchelor, who is currently chairman of Crown Agents.

Another member is Philippa Foster Back, who has just been hired by BAE to a three-person committee to "examine the company's ethics."

Yet another member is Baroness Chalker of Wallasey, who was Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1986 to 1997, for the Thatcher and Major governments, and thus in a position to know where numerous figurative bodies are buried.

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