Sunday, 7 February 2010

Pay a bribe to atone for a bribe...

Okay time for a serious post after a few days of ⌘C and ⌘V - intellectually indolent fun posts are just not enough to quell the torrent of rage I struggle to hold at bay. 

BAE Systems, the UKs largest manufacturer, have agreed to pay the UK government £30 million, and astonishingly the US government the princely sum of £257 million in largess payments to make amends for bribing decision makers, usually foreign governments, to secure lucrative arms deals.  I covered my feelings on BAEs position in this previous post.  Friday's announcement is a cynical move that fails to recognise the reality of doing business, particularly when securing large value contracts within the public sector.  BAE now find themselves forced to pay these additional bribes, thinly disguised as fines, imposed by the SFO and the US Dept of Justice in order to allow them to continue to bid for US and UK government contracts - that sounds like bare faced extortion to me.

As for the US involvement in this case, it doesn't take long to establish just how much the US foreign policy manufactured Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have benefited their world-dominating military industrial complex - one rule for their indigenous arms manufacturers, steel suppliers, aircraft manufacturers, security and service companies, and another for any cheeky foreigners that might have the temerity to compete with them.

Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat MP, is quoted as saying: "I'm deeply concerned that there are very serious allegations of corruption that are not being pursued. There is a very serious question mark over why there has been this apparent capitulation."  This is the same Norman Lamb that claimed just over £1,000 per month in mortgage interest payments for his second home in London. He also claimed £1,826 for refurbishment of a bathroom.

If I understand him correctly Norman is asking when did we replace criminal accountability with bribes to the state? Oh wait, yeah, erm - that would be when we allowed MPs to pay back fraudulently obtained expenses with impunity.  

I'm not fooled by the decision to hang four of their number out to dry, that's a cheap concession to public sentiment, the needs of the many requires a scapegoat, four of the most deserving but least significant of their number were chosen for public sacrifice - a simple, and transparent, self-preserving diversion.  If a decision to prosecute was made fairly all 300 or so fraudsters would be "had up" in front of the beak in the morning; just where is Hazel Blears, Baroness Uddin, Jacqui Smith, the Right Honorable Dirty Moat and Duck House MP Esquire?  Oh yeah, they paid back the state's munificence or made pleadings that satisfied the scrutiny of their peers, an admission of guilt in itself - but prosecution was not in the public interest, why not? I'd be interested.

Since when did the criminal process work this way?

Finally, given the public and spittle flecked MSMs desire to make an example of leaders in the public eye; demonstrated neatly by the John Terry affair (sorry) - a man who was punished for nothing more than a non-criminal personal transgression.  How can cutting Brown, Clegg and Cameron a bit of slack be tolerated - surely they should have set the superlative example when it came to expenses?

The message we should all take from this?

It's okay to steal, so long as you pay it back if you are caught - or if you are wealthy enough; you can pay the state an indulgence to atone for your sin.

Don't even get me started on the (mis)use of public money and facilities by MPs, Lords and MSPs to benefit themselves financially and professionally...


  1. I hope the MPs use parliamentary privileged to avoid prosecution.
    and the defense is tested in the courts tested to destruction that is.

    The gall of some MPs who are saying that should not use this defense as it brings parliament into disrepute(what planet are they living on).

  2. My old boss in the RAF had previously worked in a MoD job. He had a fascinating story to tell.

    Visit of a General from the Air Force of an East Asian nation, can't remember where exactly. MoD and RAF officers hosted the visit.

    BAE Systems supplied some 'call girls' to entertain the General and his entourage. However, their stereotypes of 'foreigners' were wide of the mark. The visiting General declined the offer. So the call girls said 'We're paid for, what do we do now?' The story did not progress in detail beyond that stage, but one can imagine potential scenarios.....

    I've worked with defence contractors and they spend a fortune on wining and dining, even the smaller ones. Farnborough Air Show was always a good bet for free booze aplenty, in the little hospitality suites...weren't anywhere important enough to get near the BAE event!

    In general, the worse the kit, the more money spent on booze!