Friday, May 23, 2008

BAE & Bandar in the news ....

"Col Lang,......."I wanted to flag your attention, and the attention of your readers, to some new dramatic developments in a story you reported last year. The U.S. Department of Justice is agressively pursuing their case against BAE Systems, the British arms company, which is accused of paying billions of dollars in bribes to Saudi officials, including the former Ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar. Bandar alone is said to have received over $2 billion in BAE kickbacks, for his role in the "Al Yamamah" deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia (I hear that the actual figure paid to Bandar and some of his henchmen was closer to $10 billion). On May 12, two top executives of BAE, Chairman Mike Turner and an outside director who is also vice chairman of Barclay's Bank, were detained by U.S. officials as they arrived at Houston and Newark airports, respectively. They were handed grand jury subpoenas, and had their laptops, cell phones and papers temporarily confiscated. The latest from the DOJ is that the career prosecutors are so furious at the British government's stonewalling, that they are threatening RICO prosecutions against BAE. Remember, that the real story behind the BAE "Al Yamamah" scandal is that, under the arms-for-oil barter deal, the British accumulated well-over $100 billion, in off-the-books, offshore funds, that have been used to finance covert operations, for the past 23 years (the deal was first signed in 1985, and has been regularly updated ever since). The other nagging matter around the BAE case is that Prince Bandar "inadvertently" helped finance the 9/11 attacks, through funds provided by him and his wife to two Saudi intelligence operative in California, who, in turn, bankrolled two of the hijackers. This sordid tale is spelled out in Philip Shenon's admirable expose of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in the 2008 book, The Commission--The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. My own sources have independently corroborated much of what Shenon reports. For their part, the Saudis and the British are not at all happy about what is going on at the DOJ. The Sunday Telegraph and other British papers have been ranting about the "heavy handed" treatment of the BAE execs, and they worry about a deeper rift, going into the upcoming G-8 summit in Japan in early July. A treaty is pending before the U.S. Senate, that would give British arms manufacturers equal access to Pentagon contracts, and a hearing was held this past week on the treaty at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden, Lugar and Feingold all expressed apprehension over the treaty, and there is fear that the BAE flap will further complicate its passage. Again, the biggest aspect of the BAE/"Al Yamamah" story is the offshore fund. To summarize: BAE delivered about $40 billion in arms and services to Saudi Arabia. BAE padded the bills substantially, up to nearly $80 billion. The pad was used, in part, to bribe Saudi officials who helped swing the deal, including Bandar and Prince Turki bin-Khaled, a top official of the Saudi Ministry of Defense. That part is fully detailed in the Guardian and other British coverage of the BAE scandal, going back three or four years. What is not covered in the British press is the fact that Saudi Arabia paid for the arms with oil. The oil was sold on the spot market, and this generated an estimated (in current dollars) $160 billion in cash. I am told by former U.S. Treasury Department officials that the funds generated from the oil sales, after BAE got their cut, went into offshore bank accounts. Those funds were invested by the usual hedge funds, etc. in places like the Cayman Islands, BVI, etc., and the profits over the past 23 years from those investments, multiplied the size of the fund tremendously. I look forward to any comments on this very big story, that has never gotten adequate media or Congressional attention, in my humble opinion. ...Harper"L2ca04fy4lcazcj1r2carq2sueca1x2lf1c

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