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Tony Blair and BAE Systems


John Simkin
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John, do you think that (in light of a possible association with BAe) Mr Blair is favouring one service at the expense of another? Or might it be that he still holds some notion of an Empire and considers this the best way to support it?

BAE Systems is the only real international player in the UK.

It is reported that the US is furious with Blair and Goldsmith for covering up this corruption. The main complaint is that these bribes have undermined free and fair competition. The European Commission has also been asked to investigate whether the decision to drop the case against BAE has breached European Union competition rules. It clearly has and Blair has a lot of explaining to do.

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There is a state within a state in the United Kingdom, a small but untouchable domain that appears to be subject to a different set of laws. We have heard quite a bit about it over the past two months, but hardly anyone knows just how far its writ runs. The state is BAE Systems, Britain's biggest arms company. It seems, among other advantages, to be able to run its own secret service.

This week, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) hopes to obtain a court order against BAE. The order would allow it to discover how the arms company obtained one of its confidential documents. CAAT instructed its lawyers, Leigh Day & Co, to seek a judicial review of the government's decision to drop the corruption case against BAE, which is alleged to have paid massive bribes to members of the Saudi royal family. Leigh Day sent CAAT an email containing advice on costs and tactics. The email ended up in the hands of the arms company.

How? Correspondence between a plaintiff and his lawyers couldn't be more private. The last people you would show it to are the defendants in the case. But somehow the letter found its way to BAE's offices.

The arms company argues that it was the unwitting and unwilling recipient of the email. So why does it refuse to tell CAAT who sent it? Why, far from assisting CAAT's attempt to explain this mystery, has it threatened the group with costs for seeking to reveal BAE's source?

CAAT has good reason to be suspicious. In 2003, the Sunday Times revealed that BAE had carried out a "widespread spying operation" on its critics. "Bank accounts were accessed, computer files downloaded and private correspondence with members of parliament and ministers secretly copied and passed on." The paper said the arms company made use of a network run by a former consultant for the Ministry of Defence called Evelyn Le Chene. "Le Chene recruited at least half a dozen agents to infiltrate CAAT's headquarters at Finsbury Park, north London, and a number of regional offices." They provided BAE with advanced intelligence on CAAT's campaign against the sale of its Hawk aircraft to the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia. The arms company also obtained CAAT's membership list, its bank account details, the identity of its donors, its letters to ministers, even the contents of private diaries belonging to its staff.

After the story was published, CAAT asked a team of investigators to examine the messages sent from its offices. They found that one of the group's most senior members of staff, the national campaigns and events coordinator, had sent 181 emails to an unfamiliar address. Many of them contained extremely sensitive information.

The coordinator, Martin Hogbin, denied that he was an agent of Le Chene's. He claimed that the mysterious email address belonged to a former CAAT volunteer, and that he had been sending him this information because he might find it interesting.

The investigators contacted the former volunteer, who told them that he had not received any messages from Hogbin, and did not recognise the address. CAAT took the case to the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner, who found that the email address belonged to "a company with links to Evelyn Le Chene". Both Le Chene and Hogbin refused to assist the investigations. If it was true that Hogbin was working for Le Chene, it would be a tremendous coup for her and her clients. As campaigns and events coordinator, he knew more than anyone else about CAAT's plans. If BAE were to obtain and make use of such intelligence, it could anticipate and outmanoeuvre the Campaign's attempts to expose or embarrass it.

BAE's spying operations represent just one way in which the company looks like a parallel state. It also appears to enjoy crown immunity. Last August, this column suggested that the Saudi corruption case might be dropped, in order to protect a new order for 72 BAE jets. It was not a hard prediction to make - Saudi Arabia had made the new deal conditional on the abandonment of the case. But I could not have guessed that both the attorney general and the prime minister would make such a show of squashing the investigation. They seemed to go out of their way to demonstrate to BAE's clients that they would do whatever it took to protect the new order, even if it meant exposing themselves to allegations of collusion.

The prime minister has never taken such a risk on behalf of one of his departments, let alone his ministers or officials (witness how Lord Levy and Ruth Turner have been left to swing). There are just two friends for whom he will put his legacy on the line: George Bush and BAE.

In 2001, Blair overruled Clare Short and Gordon Brown to grant an export licence for BAE's sale of a military air-traffic control system to one of the world's poorest countries, Tanzania. The World Bank had pointed out that the contract was ridiculously expensive - Tanzania could have bought a better system elsewhere for a quarter of the price. In January the Guardian revealed that BAE Systems allegedly paid a $12m (£6.2m) "commission" to an agent who brokered the deal.

In 2005, Blair made a secret visit to Riyadh to expedite BAE's deal with the Saudi princes. He then sent both John Reid and Des Browne to clinch the order. Ministers in the UK have always acted as unpaid salesmen for the arms companies, but seldom has a prime minister muddied his hands this much. Blair pushed the order through by promising the Saudis that they could have the first 24 planes ahead of schedule. How? By selling them the jets already allotted to the RAF. BAE's interests, in other words, trump the requirements of our own armed forces.

Blair has also broken his government's pledge to publish the report by the National Audit Office on BAE's dealings in Saudi Arabia. It remains the only NAO report never to have been made public. We can only guess why the prime minister needs to protect it.

It could be argued, with some force, that this government has always had a special relationship with big business, rather like its special relationship with George Bush (it gets beaten up and thanks him for it). But the special favours it grants BAE are deeply resented by other corporations. After the suppression of the Saudi case, F&C Asset Management, a very large institutional investor, wrote to the government to complain that its decision undermined the rule of law and the predictability of the investment climate. Hermes, Britain's biggest pension fund, said that it threatened the UK's reputation as a leading financial centre, and the chairman of Anglo-American wrote that the abandonment of the case "damaged the reputation of Britain".

At what point does the government conclude that this company has got out of control? That it presents a danger to national interests, to the reputation of the prime minister, to the privacy and civil liberties of its opponents? Why does it appear to be above the law? For how much longer will it be permitted to run what looks like a parallel secret service? Of all the questions we might ask of our ministers, these are the least likely to be answered.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...2011751,00.html

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Last week, Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions, was reported to be having an affair with a female barrister. Macdonald’s boss, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, defended him by saying it was a “private matter”.

The Sunday newspapers today have revealed that Goldsmith has also been having an affair Kim Hollis, a lawyer who was the first Asian woman to reach the rank of Queen’s Counsel. When interviewed by journalists, Goldsmith admitted the affair but claimed it was a “private matter”.

What we do know is that on two occasions in the past, the legality of the invasion of Iraq and the non-prosecution of BAE Systems, Goldsmith was reluctant to go along with Blair’s wishes. However, in both cases, Goldsmith changed his mind and gave into pressure from Blair.

Goldsmith and Macdonald are going to play important roles in the prosecution or non-prosecution of Tony Blair and his mates over the “cash for honours” scandal.

Is it possible that the reason that Goldsmith and Macdonald have given into Blair is because they were being blackmailed over their secret affairs? Lyndon Johnson always made sure he had people in key positions who could be blackmailed.

Is it possible that enemies of Tony Blair have leaked these stories? After all, they can no longer be blackmailed by Blair.

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Despite mountains of documents suggesting enormous cash sums heading the Saudis' way, the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, told parliament the investigation was dropped for lack of evidence - and because MI5 and MI6 believed Britain's national security would be in danger if justice was pursued (though, interestingly, the heads of those agencies have refused to endorse that claim). In an incredible sentence, Goldsmith explained that the decision had been made in the wider public interest, which had to be "balanced against the rule of law". But the rule of law should not be balanced against anything. If it is, you descend down the slippery slope into dictatorship.

In normal times, the SFO decision alone might have forced Blair's exit: to suspend the law because of threats from a foreign government is as serious as it gets. But the issue gained no traction, because there is nowhere for political outrage to go. How can you demand that Blair quit when he's quitting anyway? The result is an eerie lethargy in British politics, thanks to which the prime minister is unconstrained.

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Despite mountains of documents suggesting enormous cash sums heading the Saudis' way, the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, told parliament the investigation was dropped for lack of evidence - and because MI5 and MI6 believed Britain's national security would be in danger if justice was pursued (though, interestingly, the heads of those agencies have refused to endorse that claim). In an incredible sentence, Goldsmith explained that the decision had been made in the wider public interest, which had to be "balanced against the rule of law". But the rule of law should not be balanced against anything. If it is, you descend down the slippery slope into dictatorship.

In normal times, the SFO decision alone might have forced Blair's exit: to suspend the law because of threats from a foreign government is as serious as it gets. But the issue gained no traction, because there is nowhere for political outrage to go. How can you demand that Blair quit when he's quitting anyway? The result is an eerie lethargy in British politics, thanks to which the prime minister is unconstrained.

Jonathan...

How nice to see you back visiting the forum for another fly-bye.

It would be unfair to accuse you of plaigiarism, as you only appear to plaigiarize yourself. Nevertheless, it's interesting to compare your simulataneous entries in three threads about Tony Blair, all of which contain over-lapping extracts from your latest article.

This is the briefest of the three.

Does it contain a coded message? :blink:

Or is the key take-home message the proposition that the British PM and Attorney General are even more bent than the heads of MI5 and MI6?

Edited by Sid Walker
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Story that has just appeared on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6728773.stm

A Saudi prince who negotiated a £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 would not comment on the investigation and BAE systems said they acted lawfully at all times.

The MoD said information about the Al Yamamah deal was confidential.

Up to £120m a year was sent by BAE 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 Banda 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.

According to Panorama's sources, the payments were written into the arms deal contract in secret annexes, described as "support services".

They were authorised on a quarterly basis by the MoD.

The payments were discovered during a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation.

The SFO inquiry into the Al Yamamah deal was stopped in December 2006 by attorney general Lord Goldsmith.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the time it had been dropped because of national security concerns.

Prince Bandar, who is the son of the Saudi defence minister, served for 20 years as ambassador and is now head of the country's national security council.

Jane Corbin, from Panorama, explained that the payments were Saudi public money, channelled through BAE and the MoD, back to the Prince.

The SFO were trying to establish whether they were illegal when the investigation was stopped, she added.

And she said she believed the payments would thrust the issue back into the public domain and raise a number of questions.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said that if ministers in either the present or previous governments were involved there should be a "major parliamentary inquiry".

"It seems to me very clear that this issue has got to be re-opened," Mr Cable told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight.

"It is one thing for a company to have engaged in alleged corruption overseas. It is another thing if British government ministers have approved it."

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I thought it might be worthwhile to explain some background detail to this BAE scandal.

The story begins in December 1984 when Margaret Thatcher approached Prince Bandar bin Sultan and asked him to help BAE get a new weapons contract with Saudi Arabia. At the time Bandar was Saudi ambassador to Washington. He was also a close friend of George Bush. Bandar had to do a deal with Bush before he could arrange for the arms contract with BAE to go ahead. Bush and Reagan gave their blessing to the deal in return for the appropriate rewards.

There were several reasons for this. Bush and Reagan did not mind where they got their bribes from. They also were aware that it had been illegal in the US since 1977 (the work of Jimmy Carter) for corrupt payments to be made to foreign politicians. However, the main reason concerned the unwillingness of the Reagan administration to be associated with an arms deal with an Arab nation. They knew that this would upset the powerful Israeli lobby.

The deal was arranged for the government by Charles Powell, Thatcher’s top political advisor (or in other words, her bagman). Others involved in these negotiations included Prince Bandar, Colin Chandler (Ministry of Defence) and Dick Evans (BAE Systems). Charles Powell is the brother of Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff who is currently being investigated for the cash for honours scandal. It is Powell who introduced Blair into the world of corruption.

In 1985 the Al-Yamamah agreement was signed by Michael Heseltine and Prince Sultan. The deal is worth £45bn to BAE.

In 1989 the National Audit Office started an inquiry into allegations that huge bribes were paid to land Al-Yamamah contract. In 1992 the auditor-general Sir John Bourn agrees to suppress the report after Thatcher claims its publication would upset the Saudis.

In 2001 a whitleblower at the Ministry of Defence claims that a BAE “slush fund” exists. BAE with the help of the MoD manage to cover-up the story. A second whistleblower provides information on the story to the Serious Fraud Office in 2004. The SFO begins an investigation into corruption at BAE. This is significant as in 1999 Blair signed up to OECD anti-corruption agreement. In 2002 the British government followed the US example by making it illegal for corrupt payments to be made to foreign politicians.

Over the next two years the SFO discover a considerable amount of evidence that the BAE had been involved in corrupting politicians from several countries including Saudi Arabia, Chile and South Africa. In 2006 Tony Blair orders the SFO to stop its investigation into Saudi Arabia. The reason is that the SFO is just about to gain access to Swiss accounts thought to have been linked to the Saudi royal family.

However, David Leigh of the Guardian continues to carry out his own investigation. He passed his information to the BBC who will broadcast next Monday details of how since 1985 BAE have given Prince Bandar over £1bn. It is also be made clear that the MoD and government ministers, both Tories and Labour, were aware of these payments.

The real issue is about what Prince Bandar did with this money. How much went to Margaret Thatcher, John Bourn, Charles Powell, Colin Chandler, Tony Blair, Lord Goldsmith, etc.?

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Never let members of this government complain about corruption abroad. Never let them blame the failure of Tony Blair's mission to rescue Africa on venal dictators and grasping officials. The allegations published in the Guardian yesterday about slush funds used to oil the Al-Yamamah deal suggest that there is nothing that foreign despots can teach us about corruption.

In 2003, the Guardian uncovered evidence suggesting that the arms company BAE had been running a £60m slush fund, which it used to provide gifts and prostitutes to Saudi officials to facilitate its massive weapons deal. Prince Turki bin Nasser, the Saudi minister for arms procurement, was alleged to be a beneficiary. But the new allegations are on a different scale altogether. They allege that BAE channelled over £1bn to another Saudi official, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, as payment for ensuring that Al-Yamamah proceeded. Most damagingly for this government, the fees are alleged to have continued, with the authorisation of the Ministry of Defence, after 2002, when the payment of commissions to foreign officials became illegal in the UK. Prince Bandar yesterday denied the payments were secret or backhanders, and said they were within the contracts.

The Guardian's initial revelations gave the Serious Fraud Office little choice but to open an investigation. In 2005, the Saudi government informed Blair it would not lodge another order with BAE (for 72 Eurofighters) unless this case was abandoned. Last December, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, instructed the SFO to drop the case. He and the prime minister cited "national security" as the reason for this surrender. Something was being secured all right: but it was BAE's income and the backsides of the ministers - led by Blair - who put the company's interests ahead of the nation's.

This was not the first time Goldsmith intervened to prevent justice from being done. He has come to symbolise everything that is wrong with Blair's government: the cowardice of ministers, lawyers' truths, capitulation to corporations and foreign governments, and the judicial abuses permitted in a nation without a constitution. He represents something very old - the British establishment's closing of ranks - and something new: the corruption of purpose and method that has attended the project of liberal interventionism from its inception.

In fairness to our craven attorney general, all this goes back a long way. The Defence Export Services Organisation (Deso), which allegedly oversaw these payments, has channelled money to corrupt officials in foreign governments since it was founded by the government 40 years ago. As documents unearthed by the Guardian show, this was and is its main purpose. Since the Al-Yamamah deal was signed in 1985, Britain has been supporting, financially and militarily, one of the world's most despotic regimes.

This makes a mockery of successive governments' claims to be supporting democracy around the world, and ensures our security is now entangled with that of the Saudi princes. Al-Qaida's primary complaint is directed against the Saudi monarchy and the western support it receives. Like the war in Iraq, like Blair's support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon and his uneven treatment of Israel and Palestine, this deal helps ensure Britain is a primary target for terrorism: not because our government acted on principle, but because it acted without it. Blair has invoked all the strategic threats from which he claims to defend us.

Close down Deso. Reopen the investigation. Sack the attorney general and the senior civil servants at the Ministry of Defence. Open a public inquiry to determine what Blair knew. Wage war on tax havens and secret offshore accounts. Hold BAE to account. Then lecture the rest of the world on good governance.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...2098302,00.html

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Never let members of this government complain about corruption abroad. Never let them blame the failure of Tony Blair's mission to rescue Africa on venal dictators and grasping officials. The allegations published in the Guardian yesterday about slush funds used to oil the Al-Yamamah deal suggest that there is nothing that foreign despots can teach us about corruption...

This makes a mockery of successive governments' claims to be supporting democracy around the world, and ensures our security is now entangled with that of the Saudi princes. Al-Qaida's primary complaint is directed against the Saudi monarchy and the western support it receives. Like the war in Iraq, like Blair's support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon and his uneven treatment of Israel and Palestine, this deal helps ensure Britain is a primary target for terrorism: not because our government acted on principle, but because it acted without it. Blair has invoked all the strategic threats from which he claims to defend us.

Yesterday, Tony Blair defended his actions with the words: "This investigation, if it had gone ahead, would have involved the most serious allegations and investigation being made of the Saudi royal family and my job is to give advice as to whether that is a sensible thing in circumstances where I don't believe the investigation would have led to anywhere except to the complete wreckage of a vital interest to our country. We would have lost thousands, thousands of British jobs."

Does this mean that no charges will be made against anyone if a conviction might mean the loss of jobs? This argument could be used about any criminal investigation of any company.

Blair's fear was about the loss of jobs from within the government and the MoD. The reason that the investigation was called off in 2006 was not about Prince Banda's bank account in Washington but about BAE bank accounts in Switzerland. The SFO was close to finding out the other people being paid out of BAE's slush fund. I suspect this money went to politicians and officials at the MoD who made the deal possible.

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It was disclosed yesterday that Lord Goldsmith failed to disclose to the OCED anti-corruption team that he knew about BEA/Prince Banda’s Washington bank account. Goldsmith claimed that this was because of “national security” reasons. This was the same excuse given for withholding documents in the Duke of Kent’s death, the Suez Crisis in 1956, Watergate and the assassination of JFK. This excuse allows governments to “get away with murder” (and I do mean murder).

I do not imagine that the government or parliament will investigate this case. Hopefully, the OCED will continue with its investigation.

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Never let members of this government complain about corruption abroad. Never let them blame the failure of Tony Blair's mission to rescue Africa on venal dictators and grasping officials. The allegations published in the Guardian yesterday about slush funds used to oil the Al-Yamamah deal suggest that there is nothing that foreign despots can teach us about corruption.

.............................

Close down Deso. Reopen the investigation. Sack the attorney general and the senior civil servants at the Ministry of Defence. Open a public inquiry to determine what Blair knew. Wage war on tax havens and secret offshore accounts. Hold BAE to account. Then lecture the rest of the world on good governance.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/st...2098302,00.html

George Monbiot also posted this Guardian article to the thread ' The Corruption of Tony Blair: Britain’s Watergate?'.

I've replied to it HERE

Edited by Sid Walker
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Guest David Guyatt

There are several factors concerning the BAe Al Yamama deal that can be further elucidated.

Fistly, the arms deal was originally a covert conduit for arms sales to Saddam's Iraq. Opening anything up about that would be stamped on immediately.

Secondly, BAe evidently can always use its intimate knowledge of subterranean matters to blackmail anyone in government in the UK (see point 1).

Thirdly, Wafic Said, the BAe Saudi agent in this deal and Mark Thatcher were reported to be jointly administering the "commissions" related to the deal via the so called "Savoy mafia." One beneficiary of Mark Thatcher's generosity is believed to have been the Conservative Party. The sum paid to it, if I recall correctly, was approximately £200 million to one of its bank accounts in Switzerland. I'm struggling to remember them, possibly Rothchilds was the bank and the accounts were known as the "three rivers accounts" - but I may be misremembering them incorrectly.

I was also told that Margaret Thatcher benefited personally to the tune of an odd couple of hundred million or so. The total figure of Thatcher/Conservative Party commissions was somewhere between £400-450 millions, I was told.

I seem to remember a rumour that was published by Scallywag Magazine which claimed that the Tory party money later "disappeared" courtesy of Lord MacAlpine and that it was news of this that triggered Michael Heseltime's heart attack and brough to an end his hope of ever leading the Party.

David

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There are several factors concerning the BAe Al Yamama deal that can be further elucidated.

Fistly, the arms deal was originally a covert conduit for arms sales to Saddam's Iraq. Opening anything up about that would be stamped on immediately.

Secondly, BAe evidently can always use its intimate knowledge of subterranean matters to blackmail anyone in government in the UK (see point 1).

Thirdly, Wafic Said, the BAe Saudi agent in this deal and Mark Thatcher were reported to be jointly administering the "commissions" related to the deal via the so called "Savoy mafia." One beneficiary of Mark Thatcher's generosity is believed to have been the Conservative Party. The sum paid to it, if I recall correctly, was approximately £200 million to one of its bank accounts in Switzerland. I'm struggling to remember them, possibly Rothchilds was the bank and the accounts were known as the "three rivers accounts" - but I may be misremembering them incorrectly.

I was also told that Margaret Thatcher benefited personally to the tune of an odd couple of hundred million or so. The total figure of Thatcher/Conservative Party commissions was somewhere between £400-450 millions, I was told.

I seem to remember a rumour that was published by Scallywag Magazine which claimed that the Tory party money later "disappeared" courtesy of Lord MacAlpine and that it was news of this that triggered Michael Heseltime's heart attack and brough to an end his hope of ever leading the Party.

Thank you for this summary. It is not clear how much Margaret Thatcher, Mark Thatcher and the Conservative Party received as a result of this deal. That they received large sums is not in dispute. One can understand why the Tories are giving support for Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith over this issue.

There was another interesting story published in today's Guardian. It claims that BAE Systems used a secret payments system to transfer more than £13m to a company called Defence Consultancy Ltd (DCL). This company was registered anonymously in 1997 in the British Virgin Islands, with a bank account at the Henry Ansbacher merchant bank in Guernsey. The chairman of this bank at the time was Louis Hart. His son is David Hart, Thatcher's political adviser. Hart of course masterminded the destruction of the mining unions under Thatcher. He was also working at the time as a political adviser to BAE.

BAE used a front company, Red Diamond, for this transaction. Over the last 20 years BAE has used Red Diamond to channel hundreds of millions of pounds to confidential agents with offshore accounts all over the world.

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Guest David Guyatt
There are several factors concerning the BAe Al Yamama deal that can be further elucidated.

Fistly, the arms deal was originally a covert conduit for arms sales to Saddam's Iraq. Opening anything up about that would be stamped on immediately.

Secondly, BAe evidently can always use its intimate knowledge of subterranean matters to blackmail anyone in government in the UK (see point 1).

Thirdly, Wafic Said, the BAe Saudi agent in this deal and Mark Thatcher were reported to be jointly administering the "commissions" related to the deal via the so called "Savoy mafia." One beneficiary of Mark Thatcher's generosity is believed to have been the Conservative Party. The sum paid to it, if I recall correctly, was approximately £200 million to one of its bank accounts in Switzerland. I'm struggling to remember them, possibly Rothchilds was the bank and the accounts were known as the "three rivers accounts" - but I may be misremembering them incorrectly.

I was also told that Margaret Thatcher benefited personally to the tune of an odd couple of hundred million or so. The total figure of Thatcher/Conservative Party commissions was somewhere between £400-450 millions, I was told.

I seem to remember a rumour that was published by Scallywag Magazine which claimed that the Tory party money later "disappeared" courtesy of Lord MacAlpine and that it was news of this that triggered Michael Heseltime's heart attack and brough to an end his hope of ever leading the Party.

Thank you for this summary. It is not clear how much Margaret Thatcher, Mark Thatcher and the Conservative Party received as a result of this deal. That they received large sums is not in dispute. One can understand why the Tories are giving support for Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith over this issue.

There was another interesting story published in today's Guardian. It claims that BAE Systems used a secret payments system to transfer more than £13m to a company called Defence Consultancy Ltd (DCL). This company was registered anonymously in 1997 in the British Virgin Islands, with a bank account at the Henry Ansbacher merchant bank in Guernsey. The chairman of this bank at the time was Louis Hart. His son is David Hart, Thatcher's political adviser. Hart of course masterminded the destruction of the mining unions under Thatcher. He was also working at the time as a political adviser to BAE.

BAE used a front company, Red Diamond, for this transaction. Over the last 20 years BAE has used Red Diamond to channel hundreds of millions of pounds to confidential agents with offshore accounts all over the world.

Very interesting, John. Defence Consultantcy Limited sounds (to my untuned ear) very similar to Defence Systems Limited, part of the "Palace Group" of companies that include such luminaries as Sandline and Executive Outcomes. DSL is owned by Armor Holdings Inc -- very Pentagon-Langley... The Palace Group used to have some very nice (!) South African crooks, er, I mean boys, associated with it that I have bumped into (or been bumped into by) over the years when I was tracking Project Hammer. I well remember the merchant bank Henry Ansbacher from my early days in the City. I even think I have some curious financial papers that cite their name in some odd and doubtless crooked transaction. Meanwhile, you could always get Blochs book "British Intelligence and Covert Action" that will undoubtedly add more gravey to this story.

But isn't it absoliutely fascinating that Richard Bethel - now Lord Westbury - a former old Harrovian SAS thug who was part of the Palace Group founded a related outfit called, yes, the "Hart Group" (website no longer functioning -- fortunately, I saved a copy ;->) and I wouldn't be in the slightest bit surprised if his choice of company name wasn't dictated by an infusion of funds/direction from the Hart's named above. Otherwise coincidence really does exist in spooksville and that would mean changing my attitude pdq!

Betheld's Hart Group was very interested in protecting vessels at sea from "piracy" - doubtless he was smirking at the joke when this was written. Similarities also for "Red Diamond" becuase another company that formed part of the Palace Group was "Diamond Works". I believe (but haven't really investigated this to any great extent) that there is also a American version of the Defence Systems Limited (of the Palace Group), which would be USDS Inc, - United States Defense Systems Inc., which is, itself, a subsidiary of Armor Holdings. I also think there is a Saudi arm too that might connect to an entity called Saudi Finance. (SaudiFin) based in Geneva that connects to the Bin Laden family.

Things get soooo complicated, don't they.

David

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Guest David Guyatt
There are several factors concerning the BAe Al Yamama deal that can be further elucidated.

Fistly, the arms deal was originally a covert conduit for arms sales to Saddam's Iraq. Opening anything up about that would be stamped on immediately.

Secondly, BAe evidently can always use its intimate knowledge of subterranean matters to blackmail anyone in government in the UK (see point 1).

Thirdly, Wafic Said, the BAe Saudi agent in this deal and Mark Thatcher were reported to be jointly administering the "commissions" related to the deal via the so called "Savoy mafia." One beneficiary of Mark Thatcher's generosity is believed to have been the Conservative Party. The sum paid to it, if I recall correctly, was approximately £200 million to one of its bank accounts in Switzerland. I'm struggling to remember them, possibly Rothchilds was the bank and the accounts were known as the "three rivers accounts" - but I may be misremembering them incorrectly.

I was also told that Margaret Thatcher benefited personally to the tune of an odd couple of hundred million or so. The total figure of Thatcher/Conservative Party commissions was somewhere between £400-450 millions, I was told.

I seem to remember a rumour that was published by Scallywag Magazine which claimed that the Tory party money later "disappeared" courtesy of Lord MacAlpine and that it was news of this that triggered Michael Heseltime's heart attack and brough to an end his hope of ever leading the Party.

Thank you for this summary. It is not clear how much Margaret Thatcher, Mark Thatcher and the Conservative Party received as a result of this deal. That they received large sums is not in dispute. One can understand why the Tories are giving support for Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith over this issue.

There was another interesting story published in today's Guardian. It claims that BAE Systems used a secret payments system to transfer more than £13m to a company called Defence Consultancy Ltd (DCL). This company was registered anonymously in 1997 in the British Virgin Islands, with a bank account at the Henry Ansbacher merchant bank in Guernsey. The chairman of this bank at the time was Louis Hart. His son is David Hart, Thatcher's political adviser. Hart of course masterminded the destruction of the mining unions under Thatcher. He was also working at the time as a political adviser to BAE.

BAE used a front company, Red Diamond, for this transaction. Over the last 20 years BAE has used Red Diamond to channel hundreds of millions of pounds to confidential agents with offshore accounts all over the world.

Very interesting, John. Defence Consultantcy Limited sounds (to my untuned ear) very similar to Defence Systems Limited, part of the "Palace Group" of companies that include such luminaries as Sandline and Executive Outcomes. DSL is owned by Armor Holdings Inc -- very Pentagon-Langley... The Palace Group used to have some very nice (!) South African crooks, er, I mean boys, associated with it that I have bumped into (or been bumped into by) over the years when I was tracking Project Hammer. I well remember the merchant bank Henry Ansbacher from my early days in the City. I even think I have some curious financial papers that cite their name in some odd and doubtless crooked transaction. Meanwhile, you could always get Blochs book "British Intelligence and Covert Action" that will undoubtedly add more gravey to this story.

But isn't it absoliutely fascinating that Richard Bethel - now Lord Westbury - a former old Harrovian SAS thug who was part of the Palace Group founded a related outfit called, yes, the "Hart Group" (website no longer functioning -- fortunately, I saved a copy ;->) and I wouldn't be in the slightest bit surprised if his choice of company name wasn't dictated by an infusion of funds/direction from the Hart's named above. Otherwise coincidence really does exist in spooksville and that would mean changing my attitude pdq!

Bethel's Hart Group was very interested in protecting vessels at sea from "piracy" - doubtless he was smirking at the joke when this was written. Similarities also for "Red Diamond" becuase another company that formed part of the Palace Group was "Diamond Works". I believe (but haven't really investigated this to any great extent) that there is also a American version of the Defence Systems Limited (of the Palace Group), which would be USDS Inc, - United States Defense Systems Inc., which is, itself, a subsidiary of Armor Holdings. I also think there is a Saudi arm too that might connect too via an entity called Saudi Finance. (SaudiFin) based in Geneva that connects to the Bin Laden family.

Corruption and thievery get soooo complicated, doesn't it.

David

Edited by David Guyatt
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