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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK
Al Yamamah Inquiry: Statements
Panorama has received the following statements from the parties responding to the allegations in Monday's programme.

The statements are from:

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Prince Bandar bin Sultan
Prince Bandar was Saudi ambassador to the US for 20 years

First statement

An article appeared in today's edition of the Guardian entitled "BAE accused of secretly paying 1 billion to Saudi Prince".

The article refers to payments made into accounts at Riggs Bank in Washington DC whist Prince Bandar was serving as Saudi Arabia's US ambassador.

"The clear thrust of the article is that the payments referred to represented improper secret commissions or "back handers" paid to Prince Bandar.

This is an extremely serious allegation against a senior member of the Saudi government and one which Prince Bandar categorically denies.

The accounts at Riggs Bank were in the name of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defence and Aviation (MODA).

Any payments into those accounts made by BAE were pursuant to the Al Yamamah contracts and as such would not in any way have been "secret" from the parties to those contracts.

Whilst Prince Bandar was an authorised signatory on the accounts any monies paid out of those accounts were exclusively for purposes approved by MODA.

In addition the accounts in question were audited on an annual basis by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance on behalf of MODA.

At no stage have MODA or the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance identified any irregularities in the conduct of the accounts whether in relation to monies coming into the accounts or monies going out of the accounts.

Whilst the article in the Guardian states that Prince Bandar was asked about the alleged payments, Prince Bandar has no record of ever being contacted by anybody from the Guardian. If he had been contacted then he would have made it clear that the story was inaccurate and misleading as made clear above.

Prince Bandar is dismayed and shocked that a newspaper of the standing as the Guardian should print such allegations in such a cavalier manner and without ensuring the accuracy of the article.

Whilst he would not normally comment about such matters, the contents of the article have left him with no choice but to do so in order to try and repair some of the damage done to his reputation by the article.

Prince Bandar will be consulting his solicitors regarding the content of this article.

Second statement

"Last week, The Guardian newspaper published stories alleging that secret payments totalling 1bn had been made to my personal account at Riggs Bank in Washington DC.

"Readers were encouraged to believe that the monies in question came from funds belonging to BAE and that the payments represented corrupt inducements to my personal benefit while I was serving as Ambassador of my country to the United States of America.

"The Guardian allegations as stated above are not only untrue but are grotesque in their absurdity, because the funds mentioned were Saudi Government money from start to finish.

"Thus, the account in the United States was a Saudi Government account and not my personal account.

"These transactions were of course confidential between all parties involved.

"However, it cannot be thought that with such substantial and regular payments passing through the banking systems of the United Kingdom and the United States, they could be kept "secret" or be concealed from the governments concerned or their regulatory authorities.

"Further it can be stated categorically that BAE was not a party to any of these accounts.

"I required and obtained all requisite Saudi Government authority to disburse any funds from the Riggs account.

"In addition the account in question was at all times audited annually by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance.

"Following the discovery of serious irregularities in the activities of Riggs Bank, the account - along with many others - was reviewed by US Treasury and other relevant US authorities.

"No wrongdoing was found in relation to the operation or management of the Saudi account.

"I trust the media will take account of these facts when reporting further.

"I do not intend to make any further statement on this issue although my staff and legal advisers will continue to monitor the matter."

BAE Systems

BAE Systems logo
"All the information regarding the Al Yamamah contract in our possession has been made available to the Serious Fraud Office over the last two-and-a-half-years.

After an exhaustive investigation it was concluded, over and above the interests of national security, that there was and is no case to answer.

The Attorney General's office has subsequently confirmed that nothing contained in the advance publicity for your programme and other recent media reports, alters that position.

To confirm what we have previously stated to you, the arrangements that are the subject of your Monday night programme are all lawful. Prince Bandar has now commented on this aspect of the government to government contract, under which we have an obligation of confidentiality.

We will comment further only to the extent required to confirm the accuracy of his comments.

To summarise, the payments that you allege to have been in some way unlawful or inappropriate were nothing of the kind.

The payments made to the account of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defence and Aviation in Washington DC were made at the behest of the Saudi authorities pursuant to the terms of the agreement.

Prince Bandar has confirmed that the use of these accounts were audited annually by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance.

Your attempt, therefore, to characterise these payments as secret commissions is misleading and irresponsible and we invite you to withdraw it immediately."

The Attorney General

Lord Goldsmith
The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith
"We are not commenting on the detail of the allegations: the Ministry of Defence has made it clear that it considers the UK is bound by confidentiality provisions in relation to the Al-Yamamah contract.

"It is not for the Attorney General to breach that confidentiality, still less where that could result in the very risks to national security which lay behind the SFO Director's decision to halt that part of the investigation.

"In any event, the allegations do not in any way undermine the Director of the Serious Fraud Office's decision to stop the investigation on the grounds of national security, nor the Attorney General's view that the investigation would not have got anywhere anyway."

The Ministry of Defence

"The MoD is unable to contribute to this programme since to do so would involve disclosing confidential information about Al Yamamah, and that would cause the damage that ending the investigation was designed to prevent.

This does not, of course, imply that we believe the allegations you propose to make in the programme are true."

Watch Panorama: Princes, Planes and Pay-offs

Princes, Planes and Pay-offs
11 Jun 07 |  Panorama
Timeline: BAE corruption probe
07 Jun 07 |  Business
BAE 'to appoint ethics committee'
10 Jun 07 |  Business

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