Thursday, June 28, 2007
Following the spate of stories this month about Tony Blair shutting down an investigation into BAE's greasing Prince Bandar's palm to the tune of $2 billion, the Justice Department has opened an investigation of its own. Ostensibly, they'll be trying to determine whether the funds that BAE pumped into a Stateside Saudi governmental account were for Bandar's personal use or for his official functions, as he claims.
But the real question is, Why all the attention now? A friend of mine here, a Dutch ex-pat who worked on the original Yamamah contract in the 1980's auditing the construction component, told me that the kickbacks in general, and for Prince Bandar in particular, were common knowledge from the very beginning, to the point of being a running joke in the accounting department. It's also not the first time that investigations into the project were opened and closed. So, again, why an investigation into a business deal between two close allies, and why now?