UK Airbus Subsidiary Pledged Guilty to Graft, Will Pay $41 Million

A U.K. judge ordered an Airbus subsidiary to pay more than £30 million (US$41 million) after the company pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Saudi Arabia to secure a military contract, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.

Bribery ContractsGPT Ltd has to pay more than £30 million (US$41 million) after it pleaded guilty to bribing officials in Saudi Arabia to secure a military contract. (Photo: Capri23auto, Pixabay, License)GPT Special Project Management Ltd was under investigation since 2012 when whistleblower Ian Foxley - a former operations director for GPT - claimed the company spent $17 million in illicit payments and gifts to secure the $2.4 billion communications contract.

The SFO said that GPT has “pleaded guilty to corruption between December 2008 and July 2010 in relation to contracts awarded to GPT in respect of work carried out for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.”

The SFO charged in July 2020 the company and three individuals whose trial is scheduled for May 2022.

Former Managing Director, Jeffrey (Jeff) Cook, and John Mason, financial officer and co-owner of the foreign-registered companies Simec and Duranton, subcontractors to GPT, were charged with corruption between January 2007 and December 2012.

Cook was also charged with misconduct in public office between September 2004 and November 2008, according to the SFO. Those charges were related to “commission paid to him on contracts he placed” with a consultant company for the U.K. Defence Ministry, for which he worked at the time. Terence Dorothy was charged with “aiding and abetting that offence,” the SFO said.

GPT made a pre-tax profit of $16.6 million in 2018, which it says was a 113 percent increase from 2017, for its work with its only client -- the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

OCCRP wrote earlier that it was not the first time a bribery scandal had implicated a British company and Saudi Arabia’s military.

In 2006, former Prime Minister Tony Blair cited national security as a reason for dropping a bribery investigation into British defence contractor BAE for a contract with Saudi Arabia.

 In a previous version of this story, the OCCRP made a mistake about the charge against Terence Dorothy. He was in fact charged with aiding and abetting Jeffrey Cook's alleged misconduct in office. We regret the mistake.