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BAE Systems

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact on the investment climate and business confidence in the UK of the decision to halt Serious Fraud Office investigations into alleged bribery by BAE Systems. (115159)

The recent announcement by the Attorney-General indicated that no weight had been given to commercial or national economic interests in the SFO decision to halt the investigation into BAE Systems and the Al Yamamah contract.

The Government remain extremely serious about tackling corruption. This decision sets no precedent of any kind and was made on legitimate public interest grounds.

DFID has funded a new International Corruption Group. This will provide the UK with a dedicated resource to investigate allegations of corruption and bribery by a UK citizen or company anywhere in the world. It will bring together the experience of the Serious Fraud Office and Serious Organised Crime Agency with the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police.

The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating a number of other cases (including some relating to BAE Systems) where there are allegations of bribery or corruption abroad, as well as fraud. The Attorney-General has made clear to the director that he should pursue these cases vigorously and that no particular company is beyond the law or immune from action in this area.

I refer my hon. Friend to the oral statement made by my hon. Friend the Solicitor-General on 14 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1119-29: