Swedish TV Blasts BAE and Its Partners--Will More Heads Roll?

25 de junio de 2007

June 25, 2007 (LPAC)--On June 6, a special television investigative program aired in Sweden, providing information on BAE and its partners in Sweden, that has now been confirmed as an official government investigation. The investigation hits operations in South Africa, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The program called "Uppdrag Granskning," made by the Swedish state television SVT, and broadcast in February and again on June 6 of this year, exposes the mechanisms by which Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab and its partner BAE bribed their way to major deals of selling Swedish Saab Gripen fighter jet to the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa from 1999 through 2001-2002.

Although the program is a preliminary investigation to pressure Swedish authorities to open a full official investigation, it reveals most of the material necessary to prove that bribes were by Saab through BAE to middlemen who forwarded the money to Czech, Hungarian and South African politicians.

The TV documentary producers relied on British official documents. and interviews with some of the players involved in the BAE deals, as well as interviews with British Guardian daily reporters. The program presented the following charges: Saab paid "consultancy fees" to BAE, which in turn moved the money to a subsidiary company called Red Diamond and registered in Virgin Island. Red Diamond then moved the money into the accounts of an Austrian oligarch called Alfons Mensdorf-Pouilly in his Virgin Island company MPA or Prefinor. Mensdorf-Pouilly used the money to bribe Czech and Hungarian politicians (both Social Democratic and Conservative) who would politically facilitate the deals. The payoffs amounted to around US$100 million, and Mensdorf-Pouilly was supposed to get 3% in commissions if the deal went through. The same method was used with South Africa, reports the Swedish documentary, however in this case another "broker" by the name of John Bredencamp, a notorious arms dealer, is suspected to have brought the payoffs to South African officials.

The documentary also reports that BAE Systems' officials secretly and systematically moved documents related to payoffs and other "sensitive" material to be locked in the safes of a Geneva company called Novelmight Limited.

The Swedish journalists, presenting themselves as British agents, secretly interviewed Former Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kavan who told them that a number of high-ranking Czech politicians had accepted bribes within the planned sale of Gripen fighters to the Czech air force. Kavan was later sacked from the government in March 2007, following the first showing of this program.

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC member of the South African Parliament who defected from the party, tells the Swedish journalists about his discoveries about the Saab Gripen sales to South Africa through the "Gripen International" campaign which was run by the Saab-BAE jointly. He states that it was most likely John Bredenkamp who helped the Swedish-British consortium to get the deal through bribing South African officials. Both Swedish and British governments, and Prime Ministers Goran Persson and Tony Blair personally, were heavily campaigning for the sale of Saab Gripen and other war materials. Feinstein, who lives "in exile" in London, said he was writing a book about how this deal inaugurated a new era of corruption in the top ranks of South Africa leadership.

An interesting insight is presented in the documentary is provided by Henrik Westander, a former journalist who back in the 1980s revealed how the Swedish Bofors company bribed Indian officials to get through a deal to sell guns. Westmander now works for the Swedish peace and arbitration institute Fred, and Bofors is owned by BAE.

In the documentary, Westmander says: "Marcus Wallenberg is the board chairman of Saab. He says it is OK to give somebody a billion (Swedish) kroners in commissions. This is not good, because corruption will become common in the society."

The Wallenberg dynasty own most of the important Swedish industries and financial firms and Banks. They worked intensively in the 1990s to shut down the Swedish regular army and sell out the Swedish weapons industry to British and international firms. They have had a close collaboration with the British oligarchy over three generations, including in the key operation to put Hitler in power through bankrupting Germany in collaboration with Hjalmar Shacht.