Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Conversation with Richard Alderman Regarding BAE

In October 2010, I published (here) a detailed Q&A with Richard Alderman (Director of the U.K. Serious Fraud Office).

Given that the BAE matter was still pending in the U.K. courts, Mr. Alderman declined to answer BAE related questions.

In February, I re-submitted my BAE questions (along with a few additional questions relating to the December 2010 U.K. resolution of the BAE matter - see here for the prior post) to Mr. Alderman.

Our Q&A can be found here.

Publication of Mr. Alderman's BAE-specific responses are timely given recent developments regarding BAE.

WikiLeaks recently published (here) a cable detailing certain information regarding termination of the U.K. inquiry regarding BAE and its relationship with certain Saudi officials, including in connection with the al-Yamamah contract.

Even though the cable adds little to what is already in the public domain regarding this matter (see here for the April 2009 PBS Frontline documentary Black Money - including interviews with several of the individuals referenced in the cable), the WikiLeaks cable has generated significant interest and has prompted a senior MP, Sir Menzies Campbell, to call for a Commons investigation.

The U.K. Telegraph (here) quotes Campbell as follows:

“This leak tells us how strong a case was available. If the information in this document had been before Parliament and the British public, there is no way that the Labour government could have influenced the termination of the investigation. The particular issue which will cause a great deal of annoyance is the fact there was prima facie evidence that a government department had been subjected to fraud. If prosecution is no longer possible, it is open to the Commons’ business innovation and skills committee to conduct a full investigation.”

For additional coverage, see here from Sue Reisinger (Corporate Counsel) and here from Samuel Rubenfeld (Wall Street Journal Corruption Currents).

Returning to my Q&A with Mr. Alderman, the following topics, among others, are explored:

(i) how the U.K. law on double jeopardy significantly affected the SFO's investigation of BAE and how the "current system [in the U.K.] for dealing with parallel criminal investigations conducted in a number of different countries does not work effectively and needs change;"

(ii) whether the U.K. government was faithful to its OECD obligations in its handling of the BAE matter;

(iii) criticism of the SFO-BAE plea agreement by the U.K. sentencing judge; and

(iv) "shortcomings" in the U.K. system and how Mr. Alderman would like a system that "is far more transparent [...] that commands public confidence, together with a much stronger role for the judiciary."

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