A Saudi prince who negotiated a Â£40bn arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia received secret payments for over a decade, a BBC probe has found.
The UK’s biggest arms dealer, BAE Systems, paid hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
The payments were made with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence.
Prince Bandar “categorically” denied receiving any improper payments and BAE said it acted lawfully at all times”¦.
The investigation found that up to Â£120m a year was sent by BAE Systems from the UK into two Saudi embassy accounts in Washington.
The BBC’s Panorama programme has established that these accounts were actually a conduit to Prince Bandar for his role in the 1985 deal to sell more than 100 warplanes to Saudi Arabia.
The purpose of one of the accounts was to pay the expenses of the prince’s private Airbus.
David Caruso, an investigator who worked for the American bank where the accounts were held, said Prince Bandar had been taking money for his own personal use out of accounts that seemed to belong to his government.
He said: “There wasn’t a distinction between the accounts of the embassy, or official government accounts as we would call them, and the accounts of the royal family.”
Mr Caruso said he understood this had been going on for “years and years”.
“Hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars were involved,” he added.
— from this article
Prince Bandar is a friend of both Bushes (and the senior Bush does not deserve to be favorably compared to his son, as some may think, but deserves whipping for different reasons). He is a tennis partner of Colin Powell, and Sugar Daddy to so many in and out of Washington.
With his walking-around money, he has a knowing port-and-cigars look, a look that suggests that corruption is something that worldly gentlemen all accept, that powerful grownups realize it is unavoidable, that everyone does it. And besides, possibly even they might somehow, oh in some quite undetermined way, like a little help — with their favorite charity, or presidential library, or some help for a relative, nothing vulgarly direct mind you. Thus come those smiling donations for which the Al-Saud and their courtiers have become famous.
Bandar defended the ruling Al-Saud by suggesting it was not the fact of corruption, but rather, the extent of it, that mattered. And then he would explain just how great were the riches flowing into Saudi Arabia, and so how, by comparison, even a billion or five or twenty, spread out among tens of thousands of Al-Saud princes, princelings, princelettes, was “a small price to pay” for continued stability in the Kingdom.
Well, if Bandar had $2 billion diverted to him alone, as is charged, does that strike you as still “in the ballpark” of what is reasonable, as Prince Bandar would say? Bandar must be furious that he was condemned, essentially, to be exiled to his own country when he was called back from Washington. For no worse exile exists for rich Saudis and other Arabs than to be forced to live, once they have enjoyed the freedoms of the West, in what now seem to them — though they can’t express it or perhaps even admit it to themselves — in the stifling hell-holes, no matter what the level of luxe, of their own countries. No worse exile exists for rich Arabs than to be forced to live in their own countries, no longer able to visit the West as combination Brother and Fun Fair. Everyone assumed that Saudi pressure had put paid to any news connected to the squashed investigation of the BAE Al-Yamamah scandal. Apparently, some were so outraged at this insult to Maitland, Coke, and Bracton, that they decided that even if British justice were not to be done, and were seen not to be done, still some of the most important details were going to be made known to the British public.
Bandar would no doubt dismiss this charge as coming “out of left field.” Taking the metaphoric field ourselves, in the bottom of the ninth, as the music swells and it looks like the Al-Saud are going to pull off yet another undeserved victory, this one a squeaker, what American or possibly British heart does not swell at the sight of Mighty Bandar striking out, while the home team has hit….what looks like…yes it is, a homer, and with bases loaded.