Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation into the activities of a subsidiary of EADS in Saudi Arabia, the European aerospace and defence giant has said.

“We have been informed by the UK SFO that it has begun a formal investigation in connection with aspects of the business of GPT Special Project Management Ltd in Saudi Arabia,” an EADS spokesman in London told AFP yesterday.

He said GPT was a local subsidiary of EADS that worked exclusively for Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

“We will continue to fully and constructively engage with the SFO but in view of the investigation will not be commenting further,” the spokesman added.

The SFO, an independent government department, confirmed on its Web site that it had opened a criminal investigation into “allegations concerning GPT and aspects of the conduct of their business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia“.

GPT is a subsidiary of Astrium, the wing of EADS specialising in space, which provides services such as secure satellite communications.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported in May last year that the SFO suspected EADS of bribing Saudi officials to help it obtain a £2 billion ($3.1 billion, €2.5 billion) contract.

A former EADS employee had claimed that colleagues used middlemen to give luxury cars, jewellery and briefcases of cash to the officials, the newspaper said.

(This article was published on August 11, 2012)
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