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Vol 51 No 4

Published 19th February 2010

South Africa

Protection in the arms bazaar

A plea bargain deal in the UK and USA has set back investigations into arms trade crookery in South Africa and Tanzania

The US$450 million in fines that BAE Systems agreed to pay on 5 February to halt investigations into corrupt payments on arms deals adds to its financial woes. And it covers only part of the claims against its businesses. BAE’s profits for 2009 fell 43% to £982 mn. ($1.5 bn.) after it lost a US army contract and paid fines on its Saudi Arabian and Tanzanian contracts.Yet it remains one of the world’s biggest arms companies and its plea deal looks cheap. Germany’s Siemens paid $1.3 billion to settle similar corruption claims and the USA’s Halliburton paid some $600 mn. in a plea bargain with the US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission for its corrupt payments on Nigeria’s $6 bn. gas export plant.

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