SFO charges GPT and three individuals following corruption investigation – Comment

Aziz Rahman, Rahman Ravelli’s Senior Partner comments on this morning’s announcement that the Serious Fraud Office has decided to bring charges in the GPT corruption investigation: ‘The bringing of these charges could be viewed as a brave move when the possible political and economic effects on relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia are considered.

“In 2006, the Tony Blair government called off a three-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into alleged bribery by British Aerospace in relation to Saudi defence contracts, citing economic and political reasons. This case could possibly have gone the same way.

“This is a case that has taken eight years to reach the stage where charges are brought. It did certainly seem as if successive governments were simply kicking the can down the road and avoiding making a decision.

“The SFO submitted a formal request to the then Attorney General to launch a prosecution at least two years ago. The length of time for a decision to be taken was being viewed in some quarters as a sign of just how willing – or unwilling – the UK was to take a tough approach on tackling bribery when it could be politically sensitive to do so.

“But we now have a decision made by the current Attorney General. While the eventual outcome obviously remains to be seen, it is to this government’s credit that it has grasped the nettle on this one.”