By Samuel Rubenfeld
The U.K. Serious Fraud office said Thursday that it’s launching a criminal probe into allegations concerning a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., or EADS, and its business in Saudi Arabia.
- Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg News
- A sign sits on the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., or EADS, stand at the Farnborough International Air Show in Farnborough, U.K., on July 9, 2012.
A former employee raised allegations last May that Riyadh-based GPT Special Project Management Ltd., a unit of an EADS subsidiary that has business with the U.K. defense ministry, bribed Saudi Arabian officials to secure a $3.3 billion communications contract.
Among the bribes were cars, jewelry and briefcases of money paid through intermediaries, according to reports at the time citing the former employee.
“The director of the Serious Fraud Office has decided to open a criminal investigation into allegations concerning GPT and aspects of the conduct of their business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said the one-sentence statement posted on the SFO’s website.
A spokesman from the SFO did not immediately respond to a request for comment to elaborate on the statement. A U.K. spokesman for EADS couldn’t be reached.
The Financial Times reported in March that GPT was conducting an internal investigation and that SFO insiders were happy at the time with the company’s progress. The paper, which reported the criminal probe Thursday, called the action a “step-change” for the agency.
This article was written by Samuel Rubenfeld and originally published on wsj