Published: May 19, 2008, 00:17
London/Washington: Two senior executives at Britain's biggest defence company were detained last week by American authorities investigating corruption allegations, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
Mike Turner, the chief executive of BAE Systems, was held with a senior colleague as they landed in America. Personal electronic equipment, including laptops and BlackBerries, was seized and examined before the pair were released.
The detentions are part of an investigation by the US Department of Justice into allegations surrounding the Â£43 billion (Dh309 billion) Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. BAE has been accused of making tens of millions of pounds in illegal payments to Saudi officials, although the company maintains it has always acted lawfully.
In December 2006 the government announced that the Serious Fraud Office was dropping its investigation into the Al Yamamah deal, prompting political controversy. America is continuing its inquiries.
The detention of the BAE executives, understood to have been at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, has raised serious concerns at high levels of the government about "heavy-handed" treatment.
The detentions follow the case of the "NatWest Three", British businessmen each sentenced to 37 months in prison in America this year, and threatens to harm US-UK relations in the run-up to the Group of Eight summit of leading industrial nations in Japan in July.
About the same time as Turner and his unnamed colleague were being detained last week, a number of US-based BAE executives had their homes raided by authorities, The Sunday Telegraph understands. BAE Systems Inc, a subsidiary of British-based parent BAE Systems plc, has 43,000 employees in America.
Source: Gulf News