Airbus subsidiary charged with corruption over Saudi Arabia contracts

The Serious Fraud Office has charged the former boss of an Airbus subsidiary with corruption over work the company did for the Saudi Arabian military.

Jeffrey Cook, the former managing director of GPT Special Project Management, is charged over contracts awarded to the company between January 2007 and December 2012.

Corruption charges have also been brought against John Mason, the financial officer and part-owner of GPT subcontractors Simec and Duranton, as well as against GPT itself.

Mr Cook faces a separate charge of misconduct in public office over commission he was paid between 2004 and 2008 while working for the Ministry of Defence.

The commission was paid over contracts he placed with ME Consultants Ltd for the Ministry of Defence.

Another man, Terence Dorothy, faces charges of aiding and abetting Mr Cook’s misconduct in public office.

Airbus shut down GPT this year after the UK subsidiary lost its last remaining contract, which was with the Ministry of Defence.

Airbus said: “GPT is a UK company that operated in Saudi Arabia which was acquired by Airbus in 2007 and ceased operations in April 2020.

“The SFO’s investigation related to contractual arrangements originating prior to GPT’s acquisition by Airbus and continuing thereafter.”

In October last year, Transparency International and Spotlight on Corruption wrote to the Attorney General highlighting their “serious concern” at the delay into the SFO’s probe of GPT.

The probe was started in 2012 over claims GPT had paid £14 million in bribes to win communications contracts with the Saudi Arabian National Guard worth £2 billion.

Airbus agreed to pay up to £3 billion earlier this year in what was dubbed the biggest global foreign bribery resolution to date.

The deferred prosecution agreement followed an investigation by authorities in the UK, US and France.

The investigation was separate to the probe into GPT.

Airbus added: “A resolution of GPT, whatever its form, will not affect the January 31, 2020 UK deferred prosecution agreement. Given the commencement of the prosecution, neither Airbus nor GPT can comment further at this time.”

The case against GPT and the three individuals will be listed at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 14.