UK tries to sabotage BAE Systems bribes inquiry - report
LONDON (Thomson Financial) - The UK is covertly trying to oust the head of the world's main anti-bribery watchdog to prevent criticism of ministers and Britain's biggest arms company, BAE Systems, according to a report in The Guardian.
The report said efforts have been made to remove Mark Pieth from his position as the chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These moves come as the OECD has stepped up its investigation into the British government's decision to kill off a major inquiry into allegations that BAE paid massive bribes to land Saudi arms deals.
The Guardian claims that at the OECD meeting in Paris last month, British officials tried to stop Prof Pieth addressing a press conference at which he announced his agency was to conduct a formal inquiry into the government's decision to terminate the BAE investigation. They then privately briefed other diplomats involved with the OECD, saying he should be removed, according to the report.
However, concern about the conduct of the British diplomats apparently filtered back to Pieth, who was cited by The Guardian as saying that he was aware of the attempts to remove him.
'I am aware that the British ambassador was asking at the time for action to be taken against me,' Peith told The Guardian.
In recent weeks the UK has demanded that OECD officials should be prevented from making any future statements about the BAE case while the inquiry is ongoing. But, according to the report, the UK failed with this request.
'The British do not have support from anyone else on this,' an OECD source told The Guardian.