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SFO Given Green Light to Complete Plea Agreement With BAE

An additional development from the U.K. to report. A previous post (see here [1]) discussed the efforts of Corner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade, two British non-profits, to derail the SFO’s plea agreement with BAE.

Earlier this month, a U.K. High Court prohibited the SFO “from taking any steps in its prosecution of BAE” “until the determination of the application for permission to apply for judicial review or further order.”

As is being reported today, the permission to apply for judicial review has been refused. In a two-page order, the judge wrote that: “it is only in the most exceptional case that the court will think it right to interfere with a prosecutorial decision such as this;” that the SFO “applied the guidelines … properly” and that the SFO’s decision to resolve the matter in the way it did was not “unlawful.”

According to this [2] release, Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade “are taking legal advice on whether or not to appeal the decision.”

A spokesperson for one of the groups said that “we are obviously disappointed by the Judge’s decision to refuse permission,” and that the ruling “implies that the law allows a giant company to pay a small financial penalty for ‘accounting irregularities’ rather than be charged and tried in open court on more serious criminal charges.” According to media report, a BAE spokesperson said that this recent decision is “a matter between the two campaign groups and the SFO.”

In a related development (see here [3]), Austrian prosecutors are reportedly continuing to investigate BAE’s agent Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly. (See here [4] for a prior post).