BBC: Payments to Saudi prince over key arms deal
A journalistic investigation in Britain is alleging that a Saudi Arabian prince received payments from a leading British arms procurer for over a decade in connection with an arms deal worth 40 billion pounds (76 billion dollars), the BBC said Thursday.
The BBC's Panorama programme had found evidence that Britain's biggest arms firm, BAE Systems, paid hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the report said.
It alleged that the payments in connection with the al-Yamamah deal was made with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence in London.
But the ministry refused to comment, saying the deal was confidential, while Bandar would also not comment on the investigation, the BBC said.
Up to 120 million pounds a year was sent by BAE from Britain into two Saudi embassy accounts in Washington, it added.
The BBC's Panorama programme had established that these accounts were actually a conduit to Bandar for his role in the 1985 deal to sell more than 100 warplanes to Saudi Arabia.
The purpose of one of the accounts was to pay the expenses of the prince's private Airbus, it alleged.
The payments were discovered during an investigation by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which was unexpectedly stopped at the request of the government in London last December, citing national security concerns.
Panorama is scheduled for broadcast next Monday. Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2007, 14:35