Taiwan receives French frigate deal payment

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Taiwan said Tuesday it received $875 million from Thales, bringing to an end a long-running wrangle after the French defence giant lost an appeal over wrongful payment of commission on a warship order 20 years ago.

"Thales today returned commission, plus legal fees and interest, worth about $875 million in accordance with an arbitration court's ruling," Taiwan's defence ministry said in a statement.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office announced last month that the state would have to cover 72.5 percent of the massive bill the group now faces after an appeal court threw out its challenge to an arbitration panel's ruling.

France had guaranteed the "Bravo" contract when it was signed in 1991.

In April last year, an arbitration panel employed by Thales and the Taiwanese navy to settle their differences found that the French firm had wrongly paid commission to intermediaries to secure the contract.

Thales appealed the private panel's decision in a civil court, but last month its complaint was thrown out, leaving it facing a bill of at least $591 million (407 million euros) plus interest and legal fees.

The French defence and electronics firm signed the original deal to supply Taiwan with six Lafayette-class frigates in 1991. The contract specifically excluded the payment of sweeteners to go-betweens.

France's Defence Minister Gerard Longuet had said Thales would not appeal the latest ruling, which was based not on a re-examination of the case itself but on the conduct of the arbitration.

© 2011 AFP

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