Defence giant BAE Systems is to face prosecution over bribery allegations, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the UK said today following a long investigation.
The SFO confirmed it is to pursue claims that the firm paid out millions of pounds to win contracts from a number of countries.
An SFO statement read: “The Serious Fraud Office has announced today that it intends to seek the Attorney General’s consent to prosecute BAE Systems for offences relating to overseas corruption and will prepare its papers to be submitted to the Attorney when the SFO considers it is ready to proceed.”
The latest investigation involves contracts BAE won from countries including Tanzania, the Czech Republic, Romania and South Africa.
The company has denied the allegations.
A separate case concerning a deal with Saudi Arabia was dropped in 2007 on national security grounds, following the intervention of then-prime minister Tony Blair.
Criminal charges would be brought under the 2001 Prevention of Corruption Act.
Despite the SFO’s decision to go ahead today, the final decision on whether to proceed would be taken by Attorney General Baroness Scotland.
BAE is one of the UK’s largest manufacturers, making army kit and military hardware, with more than 100,000 employees worldwide.