Dear Sir Richard,
As Chairman of BAE you were responsible for securing the largest arms deal in British history: the Al-Yamamah sales to Saudi Arabia, worth $67bn so far over 20 years and potentially $60bn more. Of course this created thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia and the UK. Admirable!
However, there does appear to have been a slight problem with it, doesn't there?
I mean, it really did seem inordinately clever of your guys to manage to sell a military air traffic control system to the government of impoverished Tanzania in 2001 for $30m when Tanzania didn't even have an air force! There's salesmanship!
And now, finally, your company has admitted to "false accounting" over Al-Yamamah, Tanzania and other deals and agreed to pay $470m in fines. However, Sir Richard, is "false accounting" really the best description? Wouldn't bribery be more accurate?
For example, the US justice department has been investigating claims that $180m a year was transferred by BAE to Saudi Prince Bandar. And the Serious Fraud Office were just about to get going on you lot in 2006 when Tony Blair wrote a secret letter to them instructing them to stop the investigation for reasons of national security (i.e., Saudi threats).
Now, BAE's admission of "false accounting" means that there will be no trials and the company won't be blacklisted. And the fines are tiny compared to the deals, aren't they? It was still all well worth it, wasn't it? And for being the architect of the gigantic Al-Yamamah deal you were yourself well rewarded: a huge salary, a knighthood and considerable power within BAE. Two luxury homes in central London were made available to you by companies linked to al-Yamamah.
But don't you think an admission of bribery would be more appropriate? Restitution of the $67bn to the international companies that lost the deals because of your lubricative activities, maybe? Or, even better, and this is where a lowly molecular biophysicist comes in, setting up a $67bn research fund to develop alternative energy so that we can find ways to stop having to funnel huge sums of money to OPEC countries to buy oil, enabling Saudi princes in turn to transfer vast sums of money to eager BAE so they can retain multi-billion-dollar personal sweeteners. How about it, Sir Richard?
Jeremy C. Smith.