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Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters are advising BAE Systems on its response to a Serious Fraud Office investigation into allegations of bribery.
At A&O, the advice is being led by partners Jonathan Hitchin and Arnondo Chakrabarti .
The SFO has today sought permission from Attorney General Baroness Scotland to prosecute BAE for “offences relating to overseas corruption”.
The case centres on allegations that BAE bribed officials in Africa and Eastern Europe. The SFO has been locked in discussions with BAE for several months in a bid to persuade the arms dealer to accept a plea bargain.
It became clear today that that option had been rejected as BAE declared it would be prepared to go to court to defend its position.
In a statement BAE said: “If the director of the SFO obtains the consent that he seeks from the Attorney General and proceedings are commenced, the company will deal with any issues raised in those proceedings at the appropriate time and, if necessary, in court.”
In 2004, former Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened in an SFO investigation into BAE’s £43bn Al Yamamah contract to supply more than 100 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.
The investigation was dropped, but not before Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC, who acted for Corner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade in the action against BAE, exposed Blair’s intervention in court (13 July 2009).