Monday, January 8, 2007
From gulf-daily-news.com: An international anti-bribery watchdog, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has asked Britain to explain why it halted a corruption inquiry into a multi-billion-pound defence deal with Saudi Arabia, officials said yesterday.
Switzerland's Basel University CrimProf Mark Pieth, who chairs the OECD bribery group, said he had "serious concerns" about Britain's reasons for halting the probe and feared a lack of respect for the separation of powers. "It's the executive, the attorney general (justice minister) intervening in a criminal proceeding for possibly political reasons," said CrimProf Pieth.
In a telephone interview, Pieth said the OECD committee also had serious doubts about Britain invoking a "public interest" clause, adding that if by "public interest" Britain meant its "economic interests" it would be in breach of the convention.
Defence contracts could only be excluded from the convention's terms in extreme cases, he said. "I mean if James Bond needs to cheat to get a false passport, or something like that. But selling arms to a friendly government is not an excuse," he said.
Pieth said Britain would make its case in the week beginning January 15 at a Paris meeting of the OECD's 36-nation management working group on bribery. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]