Page last updated at 23:18 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Timeline: BAE corruption probes

Eurofighter
The Eurofighter has been one of BAE's biggest projects in recent years.

The guilty pleas from defence group BAE Systems after deals with the US and UK will draw a line under the long-running controversy over some of the firm's dealings.

Here are some of the key dates:

1985

UK Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine signs the first phase of the Al Yamamah arms deal with the Saudi government.

The deal covers the supply and support of Tornado and Hawk jets and a massive airbase construction programme, and is estimated to be worth £50bn.

May 2004

The Guardian newspaper alleges that BAE Systems has won the Al Yamamah deal with the aid of a secret slush fund.

It claims Ministry of Defence police are investigating payments totalling £60m made during the course of the Al Yamamah deal by BAE Systems.

November 2004

BAE Systems confirms it is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), but strenuously denies any wrongdoing.

December 2005

BAE Systems confirms it has agreed to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Eurofighter jets. Talks to finalise the deal continue throughout 2006.

December 2006

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, announces that the SFO is dropping its investigation into BAE Systems. The SFO is accused of caving in to political pressure from the UK government, which was worried about the impact on relations with Saudi and future arms deals. The SFO denies coming under pressure.

January 2007

Saudi Arabia's Defence Minister Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud says the country is looking forward to gaining delivery of the 72 Eurofighter jets "very soon".

June 2007

BAE says it is the subject of an anti-corruption probe by the US Department of Justice that will look at its compliance with anti-corruption laws including its business "concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

October 2009

The SFO says it will ask the Attorney General to prosecute BAE for corruption linked to contracts won from countries including Tanzania, the Czech Republic, Romania and South Africa.

The SFO says it has been in negotiations with the firm but that the sides could not agree what the firm would admit or the fine to be paid.

February 2010

BAE Systems says it will admit two criminal charges and pay fines of £286m to settle US and UK probes into the firm. However the pleas stop short of admitting to corruption or bribery. No further action over any other investigations is expected.



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