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Witness names revealed in ‘lost’ BAE files

The identities and credentials of witnesses against BAE Systems were revealed in files the Serious Fraud Office accidentally shipped to the wrong address.

In written parliamentary answers to the shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry, the government said witness ‘identities were among the 32,000 documents, 81 audio tapes and electronic media from 59 sources’ revealed in the misplaced documents.

The solicitor general, Oliver Heald, said the SFO has spent more than £10,000 finding the files and investigating their disappearance, according to the Guardian.

The documents were lost for more than a year before the mistake was discovered, the SFO said last month.

The prosecution witnesses identified in the documents are being contacted and warned of the mistake, the government said.

The SFO said in August that 98% of the material had been recovered.

The loss occurred after one witness asked for return of its material and it was shipped to the wrong address, the Guardian said.

The shadow attorney general said she was shocked that the SFO's files ‘ended up being in storage in the east of London in a storage facility that was also being used as a cannabis farm,’ according to the Guardian.

The SFO said earlier that Britain's national security wasn't harmed by the mistake.

The investigation of military contractor BAE began in 2004 with allegations of a $2 billion payment to a Saudi Arabia official for help selling Typhoon jet fighters to the Saudi government.

In the United States, BAE paid a criminal fine of $400 million in 2010 after pleading guilty to one charge of conspiring to make false statements to the U.S. government in connection with export licenses and its compliance with the FCPA.

In a deal with the Serious Fraud Office, BAE paid a penalty of £30 million for failing to keep accounting records of payments to a marketing adviser in Tanzania.


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.