Sweden Probes Saab Corruption Reports In Czech Republic

Feb. 26, 2007
Investigation is on bribery allegations in connection with the leasing of JAS Gripen jetfighters to the Czech Republic.

Sweden's chief prosecutor said Feb. 27 he had opened an inquiry into bribery allegations against Saab and British defense manufacturer BAE Systems over their dealings with the Czech Republic. "Christer van der Kwast, director of public prosecution, has initiated an investigation concerning bribe allegations in connection with the leasing of JAS Gripen jetfighters to the Czech Republic," a statement said.

Saab, in which BAE Systems holds a 20% stake, said in a statement that it would cooperate with the prosecutor, but would not comment further.

The probe is part of a wider investigation conducted by Britain's Serious Fraud Office into a 2001 contract worth 2.13 billion euros (US$2.8 billion) to sell 24 Gripen combat aircraft to the Czech military, a deal which was later cancelled. The deal was replaced several years later by a leasing contract. Saab and BAE teamed up on a 50-50 joint venture for the deal in the Czech Republic, a joint venture now fully owned by Saab.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office is investigating BAE's dealings in the Czech Republic and five other countries -- Romania, Chile, Qatar, South Africa and Tanzania.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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