The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into allegations that a unit of European defence giant EADS made improper payments regarding a deal with the Saudi National Guard, it was reported.
According to London’s Financial Times, US authorities are considering investigating whether GPT Special Management Systems, a UK-based subsidiary of EADS that sells communications equipment, bribed Saudi officials with luxury cars and GBP£11m in payments.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is already investigating the claims and the FT reported that the FBI was already in possession of documents and witness statements related to the allegations.
The US interest in the case stems from a claim that GPT, which sells equipment via the UK’s Ministry of Defence, made improper payments to the Saudis via accounts under US jurisdiction.
A spokesperson for EADS told the FT that it had not been contacted by the FBI or any other US agency in relation to GPT.
A separate investigation by the UK in 2006 into whether British-based contractor BAE Systems bribed Saudi officials to win a GBP£43bn fighter jet deal was shuttered by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, who cited economic and diplomatic interests.
Suspicions over potential wrongdoing by GPT in the EADS-Saudi National Guard case were said to have been raised by a senior executive within the company over a period of several years.
That employee reportedly fled Saudi Arabia in 2011, before passing on emails and documents to Britain’s SFO.