Analysis: Up in arms
On 12 May last year, when US Department of Justice officers at the Houston airport slapped a subpoena into the hands of Michael Turner, then chief-executive of BAE Systems, it was a smack heard round the world. They also grabbed and examined his computer and documents he was carrying. BAE, with major subsidiaries in the US, Australia and India, is Europe's largest military defence contractor. And US prosecutors had stepped in where the UK prosecutors feared to tread. The subpoena sought evidence about payments the company had made to secure an $85bn (£56bn) arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Company officials had contended that they paid perfectly legal commissions to an agent, and that the payments were approved by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) thought they sounded a lot like bribes.
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