The UK Government, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and BAE Systems signed an agreement today on pricing for the Eurofighter Typhoon jet. Transparency International UK is calling for strong anti-corruption provisions, close scrutiny, and increased transparency in the deal.
Mark Pyman, Programme Director, said: “Too often in the past, deals like this have been shrouded in secrecy and beset with allegations of corruption. BAE Systems and the Saudi and British governments should have nothing to hide. This deal should be subject to strong anti-corruption controls and proper levels of disclosure and transparency. That will prevent a repeat of past mistakes.”
Transparency International UK, the anti-corruption watchdog, notes that it is the responsibility of BAE Systems and of the Saudi and UK governments, which brokered the deal, to ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place to prevent corruption from occurring. Information about the deal should also be made available to oversight bodies and the public. This must include transparency in the offsets arrangements, and the use of subsidiaries, subcontractors, and agents, and any financing package.
The long-running Al Yamamah scandal involving BAE Systems demonstrated the need for strong oversight and transparency mechanisms to be put in place in such deals so that taxpayer money is not wasted and the integrity and reputations of the governments and companies involved are protected.
In 2013, the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index compiled by Transparency International UK found that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exhibits a very high level of corruption risk in its defence sector. It was rated as Band E out of F, indicating the need for much stronger systems of oversight of defence procurement. The UK defence establishment was rated as ‘Band B’, showing strong anti-corruption mechanisms overall but some areas in need of stronger controls. In our 2013 Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index, BAE Systems was rated in Band B, indicating room for improvement in several areas despite having good anti-corruption systems in others.
TI-UK welcomes the increasing level of activity among defence establishments worldwide to tackle defence corruption risks. Both the UK and Saudi governments have shown increased attention to reducing the risk of corruption in their defence establishments.
Transparency International UK notes that Finnmeccanica and Airbus, which are also involved in the building of the jets, should also put in place strong anti-corruption protections.