BAE unit Armor fined in UN bribery case

14th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

US justice officials hit security equipment producer Armor Holdings with $16 million in fines Wednesday for bribing UN officials to buy their body armor for UN troops.

Resolving charges based on the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Armor, a subsidiary of British defense giant BAE Systems, agreed to pay the Justice Department $10.3 million in the case, and another $5.7 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"Illicit payments to UN officials are no less reprehensible than bribes to foreign government officials," said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement.

"The important process of selecting body armor for peacekeepers should not be affected by which company pays the best bribes."

In a case that stems from 2001-2006 -- before BAE's 2007 takeover of the company -- Armor was accused over a scheme to pay off UN officials to get $6 million in body armor supply contracts for UN peacekeeping troops.

According to the Justice Department, the company accepted responsibility for a British subsidiary arranging payments of more than $200,000 to an independent agent for the purpose of getting the contract.

"In addition, Armor admitted that it kept off its books and records approximately $4.4 million in additional payments to agents and other third-party intermediaries used by its Products Group to assist it in obtaining business from foreign government customers," the department said in a statement.

The justice department and the SEC agreed to forego criminal prosecution in exchange for Armor admitting the charges and paying the fines.

© 2011 AFP

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