Events have moved rapidly since 5 February, when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced a plea bargain with arms giant BAE Systems (see PN 2519).
As reported last issue, activist organisations Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Corner House believe that the SFO decision is unlawful and have requested a judicial review of the plea bargain.
They contend that the SFO did not follow correct prosecution guidance (including its own guidance) on plea bargains. They also argue that the charges (whereby BAE admitted “accounting irregularities” in the sale of a radar system to Tanzania) and fine (£30 million) do not reflect the seriousness and extent of BAE’s alleged corruption.
A parallel settlement between BAE and the US Department of Justice saw BAE fined $400 million for its activities in Saudi Arabia and central Europe. A high court injunction is now in place which prevents the signing off of the plea bargain until the judicial review is decided. A high court judge will examine arguments put forward by all parties with a decision scheduled for late March.