BAE Systems has been fined £500,000 at Southwark Crown Court for breaching its duty to keep proper records of payments to an adviser in Tanzania.
The Serious Fraud Office (SRO) told the Crown Court that BAE accepted it had not accounted accurately for US$12.4 million of payments made between 1999 and 2005 to Tanzania-based businessman Shailesh Vithlani for his work as an agent in helping to secure a radar deal.
The high-profile case is being seen as a test of whether the courts will accept “plea bargains”, in which businesses admit limited wrongdoing in exchange for more lenient treatment.
The judge said in court this morning he was surprised to find the SFO as prosecutor “granting a blanket indemnity for all offences committed in the past”.
These remarks - combined with the smaller than expected fine - puts the future of plea bargain cases in the UK into doubt.
The Crown Court case against BAE was agreed in a deal announced in February following a written settlement with the SFO.