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When will senior politicians in the British government decide to have an arms length relationship with currently close defence, banking, construction, pharmaceutical and bioscience corporates, stop rewarding failure, close the revolving door and begin to believe that – long term – honesty is the best policy?
For years the name of Agusta Westland has surfaced in our database files.
Reuters now report that India, after terminated the 2010 contract for twelve AW101 helicopters, partly produced in Britain, has recovered 228 million euro bank guarantees. Allegations of bribery (detailed here) had emerged in Italy against executives at Finmeccanica’s helicopter unit, leading to the arrest of former Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland senior executives.
The revolving door between government and multinationals
A 2009 investigation by the Mail found that one in three civil servants who took up lucrative private sector jobs was working in the Ministry of Defence: “Last year 394 civil servants applied to sell their skills to the highest bidder – and 130 were MoD personnel.
ACOBA, the committee which vets such appointments, approved all the applications, although some carried conditions”.
The MoD handed a £1.7billion contract for helicopters to Finmeccanica who then appointed as chairman the department’s top civil servant, Sir Kevin Tebbit, who ran the MoD in 2005. Finmeccanica, owns AgustaWestland.
- Three years ago this site recorded the award of a £1.7billion contract to former Cabinet minister Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary who became AgustaWestland’s executive senior vice-president of international business.
Another reward for failure?
The Financial Times and so many others – recalled that Hoon left his position with NATO in 2010 after being filmed by Channel 4 Dispatches telling undercover journalists posing as representatives of a lobbying/PR company, that his experience as a minister would help ‘open doors’ for firms wanting to lobby government.
A comment on the Movement for the Abolition of War newsletter: “Ex-defence secretary Hoon, having ensured AW earned millions, is now working for them.”
In March this year, another appointment was highlighted by Exaro News, an online service which investigates issues that are important to both the business world and the public in general, but which are being inadequately covered – or ignored – by the mainstream media.
Yesterday, a blog by David Hencke, an investigative journalist, pointed to an article by Exaro colleague David Pallister which reveals that proceedings investigating alleged corruption involving a middleman and another British businessman and Indian officials are continuing in India and Italy.
Squeaky clean – only ’foreigners’ involved?
David Cameron in 2013 visited India with 100 business and, as you can read here, praised Westland, saying that any corruption problems about the order were a matter for the Indians and the Italians;
“Britain has … some of the toughest laws in the world, so people know if they do business with British companies, they have protections.”
How odd that must have seemed to Indian listeners – as one of the people under investigation in the corruption scandal was British.
The Indian Parliament has recorded a request for more information and a written answer to MPs says: “MEA (ministry of external affairs) has also been requested to take up the matter with the government of the UK, as well as requesting its co-operation in verifying the allegations, and helping us by providing relevant information relating to the alleged involvement of a middleman and/or of any Indian individual/entity.”
Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, was asked what was happening by David Hencke at a press gallery lunch in Parliament. His reply was that he was “unaware of any request” and repeated the Cameron line (above).
British workers in Yeovil will suffer from various forms of corruption in the higher echelons
Hencke ends by adding the latest news reported by the Times of India, that India has been considering whether to blacklist the company – a decision currently ‘put on hold’. He points out that this arrogant attitude towards corruption – “only a problem for others” – might well have serious repercussions for British workers who assemble the helicopters in Yeovil.
Radical change? Long overdue
Posted in Banking and finance, Civil servants, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Government, Lobbying, MPs, Parliamentary failure, Planning, Revolving door, Reward for failure, Vested interests
Tags: ACOBA, AgustaWestland, AW101 helicopters, Bribery allegations, British High Commission, Channel 4 Dispatches, David Cameron, David Hencke, David Pallister, Delhi, Ex-defence secretary Geoff Hoon, Exaro, Finmeccanica, Gravy Train, Helicopters, Indian Parliament, Jackie Callcut, MoD, NATO, Philip Hammond the defence secretary, Sir Kevin Tebbit, Yeovil