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From the London Evening Standard

A British firm is accused of bribery over a £2 billion defence deal with Saudi Arabia, the Standard can reveal.

David Cameron has been alerted to claims that the company, which supplies communications equipment to the Saudi National Guard, paid £14 million to two offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating claims that the payments, made by GPT Special Project Management, were bribes linked to the lucrative 10-year arms deal, known as the Sangcom Project.

Apart from the legitimate questions over whether British firms should be allowed to sign deals with such autocratic, human rights abusing regimes it seems that these deals can only ever go ahead with financial sweeteners.

Former PM Tony Blair actually halted an investigation in to illegal payments made by BAE to Saudi officals back in 2006, as it was in “Britain’s national interest”.

Linking Saudi Arabia to the situation of the western confrontation with Iran, it is interesting that firms have been banned from doing business with Iran, not over their governments well documented human rights abuses but over an alleged and unproven nuclear weapons programme.  A focus on human rights abuses across the board in the Middle East rather than the perceived threat of a nuclear armed Iran or other western geo strategic objectives could have a much more powerful effect both on the leaders and citizenry of these countries, ushering in the change and freedoms demanded for through the Arab Spring.

Encouraging a peaceful transition from autocratic rule to a Middle Eastern style democracy is of far greater importance to Britain’s long term national interests than arms deals helping to keep these rulers, such as in Saudi Arabia, in power.

 

By Jonathan Woodrow Martin 

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