February 2, 2008:
Britain's external intelligence agency, MI6,
has admitted that they told British prosecutors that Saudi Arabia threatened to
stop sharing information in Islamic terrorists, if an investigation of Saudi
corruption went forward. This investigation involved over $100 million in
bribes paid to Saudi officials to ensure that British firms got weapons
contracts. After the investigation was halted (at the end of 2006), Saudi
Arabia proceeded to buy $8.7 billion worth of jet fighters from the British
firm (BAE) that was under investigation. Many people familiar with how arms
purchases were carried out in the Middle East, had already concluded that the
corruption investigation was quashed because of threats from the Saudis.
At the same time, the British
government was quite frank about not wanting to lose the sale. Until the last
decade or so, most European governments did not investigate or prosecute use of
such bribes. American companies had long
complained about this European situation, which often meant lost sales for U.S.
firms. American pressure has caused the Europeans to pass anti-bribery laws.
Enforcement is another matter, as it often is.