In the US, the company will plead guilty to offences of false accounting to settle bribery allegations made over the enormous al-Yamamah arms deals with Saudi Arabia stretching back more than 20 years, as well as corruption allegations over arms deals in central Europe. The deal with the Serious Fraud Office in the UK covers one arms contract only, under which an overpriced military radar was sold to Tanzania. The SFO said some of the cash would become "an ex gratia payment for the benefit of the people of Tanzania".
The settlement vindicates a long campaign fought by the Guardian, which began a series of exposures of BAE's criminal conduct more than six years ago. BAE repeatedly denied all wrongdoing. "I am very pleased with the global outcome achieved collaboratively with the DoJ (US department of justice)," said the SFO director, Richard Alderman. "This is a first and it brings a pragmatic end to a long-running and wide-ranging investigation." Alderman acknowledged efforts made by BAE to conclude the matter and said he welcomed the company's "declared commitment to high ethical standards".