This is NOT the official weblog of Mark Thomas; this is a place to post his articles and news to bring them to a wider audience. This blog is in no way endorsed by the activist/comedian Mark Thomas. Most of the posts appeared on - hopefully they won't object to them being republished here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bribers can't influence government, can they?

It has been illegal for business folk to bribe people in the UK for centuries, but it only became illegal for UK businesses to bribe foreign government officials in 2002. Given that fact, Patricia Hewitt at the DTI should have been champing at the bit to introduce effective anti-bribery practices at the Export Credits Guarantee Department. After all, the ECGD uses public money to underwrite arms deals to developing nations, an area of business renowned for its corruption.

However, according to the Guardian, in a buried report, Patty has bowed to pressure from lobbyists to water down the proposals. Indeed, the chief lobbyist responsible for this dilution is said to be Airbus.

That wouldn't be the Airbus that gets the wings for its aircraft made by BAE Systems, would it? Nor the Airbus that is 20 per cent owned by BAE Systems? And that wouldn't be the BAE Systems that got caught depositing money into an offshore account in Jersey for a high-ranking Qatar government official during an arms deal? Nor the BAE Systems accused of paying Prince Turki bin Nasser, of Saudi Arabian defence procurement fame, £60m-worth in kickbacks? Nor the BAE Systems questioned over the high agents' fees in its arms deal with South Africa?

No it can't be, as then it would look as if Patty's department was influenced by one of Britain's biggest bribers.


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