UK-Zimbabwe: BAE linked to Zimbabwean arms dealer

BAE Systems,
the British arms manufacturer under investigation in several countries
for alleged bribery, paid at least £20m to a company linked to a
Zimbabwean arms trader allied to President Robert Mugabe, documents
seen by the Financial Times show.

John Bredenkamp,
who has indefinite leave to remain in Britain, has had a controversial
career ranging from supplying military equipment to the Zimbabwean
military to mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

properties owned by Mr Bredenkamp were raided by the Serious Fraud
Office more than 18 months ago as part of a long-running investigation
into BAE
aircraft sales to South Africa. The payment of at least £20m is the
first detailed evidence of a financial relationship between Mr
Bredenkamp and the group.

The payments raise fresh questions
about BAE's dealings with outside agents, intermediaries who sometimes
act as brokers in arms deals. Agents have featured in investigations
into whether BAE channelled bribes to foreign officials to win

BAE refuses to provide details of its relationships
with agents, although it has pledged to introduce reforms as part of an
effort to improve its image after the corruption investigation into its
multibillion-pound al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The payments linked to Mr Bredenkamp were made between 2003 and
2005 by Red Diamond Trading, a BAE subsidiary registered in the British
Virgin Islands, from a London-based Lloyds TSB account, according to
documents seen by the FT. The money was transferred to Kayswell
Services, also registered in the British Virgin Islands, a company in
which the documents list Mr Bredenkamp as a beneficiary.

Virgin Island company records show Red Diamond was liquidated on May 30
last year, just two weeks before BAE announced that Lord Woolf, the
former lord chief justice, would investigate its ethical conduct and
compliance with anti-corruption rules. BAE, Mr Bredenkamp and Kayswell
all declined to confirm the payments or comment on what the money was

Less than two weeks ago, BAE unveiled a plan to achieve
"benchmark standards of governance" as part of its response to Lord
Woolf's recommendations.

Mr Bredenkamp has been involved in tobacco trading, oil
procurement and - according to the United Nations - the supply of
equipment to the Zimbabwe air force. Mr Bredenkamp says he has always
complied with European Union arms sanctions, in force against Zimbabwe
since 2002, which ban "the provision of financing related to military

Mr Bredenkamp, who prospered under Ian Smith's white
Rhodesian regime, is now a close associate of Zimbabwe's rural housing
minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, head of the Mugabe government's Joint
Operational Command, a body widely identified as leading the campaign
of violence against the government's political opponents.

The Serious Fraud Office raids on Mr Bredenkamp's UK properties
were part of an ongoing investigation into BAE's 1999 £1.6bn jet
fighter sale to South Africa, when several ruling African National
Congress officials allegedly received bribes.

A spokesman for Mr
Bredenkamp denied he had any involvement in the South African sale and
said it was "wholly inappropriate" for him to make any comment while
the SFO inquiry continued.

BAE said: "It is our policy not to comment on payments to
individual parties or organisations, or on the individuals, parties or
organisations themselves."

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 19 Weapons Makers
  • 106 Money & Politics
  • 176 War Profiteers Site
  • 185 Corruption
  • 204 Manufacturing
  • 208 Regulation

Stay Informed