Black Money - Recap
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Narrator Will Lyman discusses how on May 13, 2008 in Texas a British flight was arriving with CEO of BAE systems. The CEO, Mike Turner, was brought in for questions by the Justice Department on allegations involving bribery. Will tells us that the case against BAE started nearly twenty years ago. The case involves international bribery and corruption among the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and other nations.
Narrator explains to us that BAE is the third largest arms manufacture and one of its biggest customers is Pentagon.
BAE is known in an arms deal that is estimated to be worth 80 billion dollars. The deal was called Al Yamamah aka The Dove.
The deal was arranged by BAE, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Margaret Thatcher and UK.
President Jimmy Carter is interviewed throughout the program. In his first interview, he describes Bandar as a “master diplomat”.
Al Yamamah was supposed to bring millions of jobs to the UK. The deal was going to be
between the US and Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudis couldn’t buy jets from America , so they turned to the UK. However, as clips of the show shows us Ronald Reagan was also involved in the deal.
Lord Timothy Bell is interviewed who confirms that the deal would aided in creating jobs in the UK. However, as Will tells us the deal signaled signs of corruption with royal family of Saudi Arabia.
For instance, the Saudi paid the deal in cash so they be exempt from taxes. More importantly, the government deal would be used by Bandar and Saudi to finance not just personal expenses but bribery.
The episode shifts to interviewing Peter Gardner who was a travel agent for Saudis. Gardner says any money owed to him was paid by Prince Bandar was financed by BAE.
Narrator tells us that everyone in the royal family benefited from deal. Gardner says that the official stance on expenses was that it was a paid contract to royal family.
Will reminds us that bribery was illegal in the US but was legal among other nations. We see clips of Watergate proceedings and discussion of cash payments by corporations for Nixon’s campaign.
In 1977 the show tells us a special act was passed to combat bribery. It was the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Peter Clark, former chief of the DOJ, is interviewed. He says that despite the act bribing and corruption continued with the only difference being is that it was done more cautiously than before. The episode shows scenes of movie “Syriana” to show illegal activity among US and other nations. Former briber, Robert Baer of which the movie is based on is interviewed.
Will explains to us that the passing of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act agitated many corporations who felt that they couldn’t compete with overseas nations without bribing.
Many cases involving bribery moved to Paris under the watch of OECD. They also created an anti-bribery treaty, however, again the treaty like the Practices Act did not prevent bribery from stopping.
We get a bio of German company Siemens and how they were investigation over corruption charges. We are also told how they moved money around from swiss accounts to slush accounts and using cash.
British reporter David Leigh is interviewed throughout the program as well. We learn that Peter Gardiner became one of the sources for Leigh’s reports on bribery for his news outlet “The Guardian”.
The case against BAE is then taken over by prosecutors for Serious Fraud Office in UK. Helen Garlick is interviewed from the office and says that what BAE did was “a drop in the ocean”.
The SFO we learn uncovered not just BAE’s corruption but other organizations involved in bribery and corruption.
Narrator Will Lyman reminds that no charges were made to BAE, and we learn that Tony Blair had much to do with it. The show explains to us that Blair had a business deal arranged with Prince Bandar.
Bandar and Saudis threatened that they would be uncooperative if any acts of terrorism against the UK were launched. Blair bucked under pressure and agreed to drop any investigations on BAE and Saudi’s.
We see a news clip with Tony Blair and George W. Bush laughing about the affair. Blair
when asked to explain Bandar’s threats and deal with UK merely shrugs off the matter.
He says that the investigations wouldn’t have revealed anything and they were more concerned with terrorist activities. Eva Joly, a French magistrate, says that the anti-bribery treat isn’t worth anything.
Will Lyman also tells us that repeated attempts to interview Tony Blair, and any UK officials siding with BAE were turned down. We learn get a couple of updates after the episodes. For instance that Helen Garlick resigned and that the former FBI director, Louis Freeh for Saudis. He is also interviewed and denies any wrongdoing by BAE and Prince Bandar but neglects to provide any documents showing their innocence.