We braved the snow to demonstrate outside BAE’s court hearing
Sub-zero temperatures didn’t deter us from voicing our anger outside court today. Arms company BAE was inside and set to get away with paying utter peanuts: buying an end to years of corruption investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). But it seems we weren’t the only people to spot injustice: the judge has so far not rubber-stamped the proposed plea bargain. He has instead postponed sentencing until tomorrow.
The SFO investigations involved allegations of corrupt payments of over £1,000,000,000 in nine countries. The proposed plea bargain on the other hand is a measly £30 million, admitting only to “accounting errors” in a single disastrous deal for Tanzania.
We took action today, indignant that one of the world’s largest arms companies might be able to buy their way out of trouble in eight other countries for such a derisory sum. The judge however seemed unconvinced by BAE’s story of how the errors in the accounts of the deal to Tanzania came about, suggesting maybe the missing funds had been used for “lobbying”!
We arrived outside court with a giant puppet of BAE Chairman Dick Olver offering a handful of peanuts. An unfortunate London CAAT member donned a Prince Andrew mask and proceeded to snuggle up to Dick: Wikileaks revealed last month that the British royal and arms sales ambassador branded SFO anti-corruption investigations “idiocy”.
Those arriving to court were offered peanuts and information, while we kept ourselves from freezing by singing creative versions of Christmas songs “We wish for no corruption, we wish for no corruption…. We won’t go until there’s justice…”
After braving the cold, we are delighted that there is now a glimmer of hope: years of investigations by the Serious Fraud Office may not be so easily buried