Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The UK's political veto on corruption investigations

Back in 2006, the British government infamously turned a blind eye to corruption, shitcanning an SFO investigation into allegations that BAE paid the Saudi royal family hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes to secure a multi-billion pound arms deal in the 80's. It was a direct attack on the rule of law to defend the wealth and interests of the powerful (not just Saudi Arabia's corrupt monarchy, but also Mark Thatcher, who allegedly benefited from the deal). And, thanks to budget cuts, the UK's current government has just institutionalised it:

George Osborne has a secret veto over large and potentially politically sensitive fraud investigations, The Independent has learnt.

Under a government agreement the Serious Fraud Office must get permission from the Treasury to launch any complex new inquiry which comes on top of its normal budget.

But controversially the Treasury can keep its decisions secret – potentially allowing it to veto politically sensitive fraud inquiries, either before or midway through an investigation, without public scrutiny.

Ministers have now become the final arbiters of which major financial crimes are investigated as a result of 25 per cent cuts to the SFO’s budget over the past three years, Labour warned.

And of course the Tories are even bigger friends of the rich, powerful and corrupt than Tony Blair was. Which means that we're not going to be seeing any real investigations of corruption from the UK any time soon.