Jury discharged in trial of UK middlemen accused of Saudi bribes

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The Guardian

The jury has been discharged in the trial of two men accused of funnelling bribes totalling millions of pounds to a Saudi prince and other high-ranking officials to secure lucrative commercial contracts.

During the trial which started in May, the Serious Fraud Office alleged that a total of £9.7m was paid to Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and a group of senior Saudi officials to land the contracts for a British subsidiary of the European aerospace group Airbus.

Jeffrey Cook, 65, and John Mason, 79, denied making corrupt payments to the senior Saudis between 2007 and 2012 as an inducement or reward for favouring the British firm GPT Special Project Management.

Mr Justice Bryan halted the trial at Southwark crown court in London on Thursday.

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At the opening of the trial in May, Ian Winter, QC for Cook, had told the court that the British government approved payments of up to £60m to a future king of Saudi Arabia, his son Prince Miteb and other high-ranking officials as part of a huge arms deal and then sought to conceal them .

Winter had said that some of the payments were made to the then Prince Abdullah, who later became the Saudi monarch for a decade.

Winter also alleged that internal documents recorded that the British government and Abdullah organised “a deniable fiddle” to hide the payments.

When he opened the prosecution in May, Mark Heywood, QC for the SFO, had said British middlemen for years had regularly paid bribes to “highly placed” Saudis through offshore companies and Swiss bank accounts in what amounted to “deep corruption”.

July 15, 2022 at 01:23AM Rob Evans and David Pegg

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