UK men funnelled bribes to top Saudi officials, London court told

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) – The former managing director of an Airbus subsidiary paid millions in bribes to senior officials linked to the Saudi Arabian National Guard to win valuable contracts, prosecutors told a London court on Wednesday.

Jeffrey Cook ran GPT Special Project Management when he allegedly oversaw corrupt payments to middlemen to obtain lucrative deals between 2007 and 2012.

Cook, 67, is charged with one count of corruption alongside John Mason, 81, who prosecutors say was “the accountant and part-owner of the business of the middlemen”.

Both men deny the charges against them.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood told jurors at Southwark Crown Court that Cook and Mason were at the heart of “deep corruption” to funnel bribes to top Saudi officials – including Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah.

Cook also faces one count of misconduct in public office between 2006 and 2007, when he worked for Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The case focuses on GPT, the sole business of which was to provide communications systems to the Saudi Arabian National Guard under a contract with Britain’s MoD.

Prosecutors say GPT paid just over 12% of the total revenue of its contracts to sub-contractors owned and run by Mason and his colleague, who is too unwell to stand trial.

The money was then used to bribe high-ranking Saudi officials and intermediaries, with more than 9.7 million pounds ($12.1 million) paid between 2007 and 2010, Heywood said.

The prosecutor told the court there was “no proper or legitimate reason why those officials and intermediaries should have been paid the large sums they received”.

GPT paid the bribes both to keep its current contracts and also obtain further contracts, the value of which was “about to go up by about 10 times”, Heywood added.

The trial, which is due to conclude next year, continues.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Mark Potter)