TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

UK used ‘deniable fiddle’ to hide £60m of payments to Saudis, court told

UK used ‘deniable fiddle’ to hide £60m of payments to Saudis, court told

Payments to a future Saudi king and other officials allegedly approved as part of huge arms deal
The British government approved payments of up to £60m to a future king of Saudi Arabia, his son and other high-ranking officials as part of a huge arms deal and then sought to conceal them in what it described as a “deniable fiddle”, a trial has heard.

Opening the defence of one of two men accused of corruption in the arms deal, Ian Winter QC told Southwark crown court that some of the payments were made to the then Prince Abdullah, who later became the Saudi monarch for a decade.

Winter also told the court that internal documents recorded that the British government and Abdullah organised “a deniable fiddle” to hide the payments.

The QC also alleged that the British government ensured payments continued to be paid to high-ranking Saudis until 2020 – eight years after the Serious Fraud Office began an investigation into the same payments.

Winter is representing Jeffrey Cook, 65, who, along with John Mason, 79, is being prosecuted by the SFO for authorising corrupt payments amounting to £7.9m to senior Saudis between 2007 and 2012.

The payments were made, according to the SFO, to ensure that a British firm, GPT, received lucrative contracts from the Saudi military.

Cook, a former Ministry of Defence civil servant, was GPT’s managing director. Mason worked for an offshore firm, Simec, that is accused of funnelling the bribes to the Saudis.

The contracts awarded to GPT were part of a large arms deal managed as a formal agreement between the UK and Saudi governments that had started in the 1970s.

Winter told the court the British government decided in 1978 that large payments had to be paid personally to Abdullah, then a prince, to ensure that the British won the original arms deal. This was a “fundamental necessity without which the contract would not have been awarded to the British”, he added.

He said the British government “decided that it was in the public interest, bearing in mind the value of the … contract, to enter into a binding contractual agreement with Prince Abdullah” to be given the payments.

He alleged that Abdullah and the MoD organised the original deal on the basis of what the MoD “called at the time, ‘the deniable fiddle’. They actually recorded that phrase in reports and file notes at the time.”

Winter said “both Prince Abdullah and the British government wanted a deniable fiddle that would enable the payments to be made, but which would permit them to deny their involvement through the use of a private contractor”. In recent years, the role of private contractor had been performed by GPT.

He said “very senior” officials in the British government approved every penny of the payments that were made as part of the arms deal in what at one stage was called “top cover”. This included the money paid to Abdullah, and more recently his son Prince Miteb, and other high-ranking officials. Abdullah died in 2015 after 10 years on the Saudi throne.

He alleged that the UK government facilitated the payments amounting to £60m to be made from the late 1970s to 2020, when GPT’s contracts ended.

The SFO began its investigation into GPT in 2012 after complaints from whistleblowers.

Winter told Mr Justice Bryan that “even after the prosecution’s balloon had gone up … the MoD set about working on creating a new system that did not involve GPT having to make the” payments to senior Saudis. He alleged that the payments were moved through an offshore route by the MoD.

He added that legally, the payments did not amount to corruption if the Saudi and British governments had authorised them.

The trial continues.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
Close
0:00
0:00
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
×