BAE, the British-based multinational aerospace giant, refused repeated requests from FRONTLINE for an interview, but finally, on March 13, 2009, emailed this statement to correspondent Lowell Bergman.
I refer to our earlier correspondence and thank you for letting me have an indication of the statements that you intend to make regarding allegations against BAE Systems in Frontline's forthcoming programme about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I hope that this response on behalf of the company will assist you to achieve the degree of balance and accuracy that I know you would hope to achieve in your programme.
The company's commitment to high standards of business conduct
BAE Systems has made public its determination to be recognised as a leader in business conduct worldwide. The company recognises that maintaining high standards of business conduct is essential to enhance its overall business performance, build trust and maintain and improve its reputation with all its stakeholders, particularly those who have little direct knowledge of the defence sector generally and the company in particular.
As you know, in 2007 the company asked Lord Woolf -- the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales -- to lead a committee of experts tasked with carrying out a comprehensive independent review to identify not only the high ethical business standards to which a global company should adhere, but also the extent to which BAE Systems currently met these standards and to recommend the actions to be taken to enable the company to achieve its objective. The company committed at the time the Committee was formed to act on all its recommendations.
The Woolf Committee Report was published in May 2008. It is a comprehensive publicly available document containing 23 recommendations for further improvement. These provide a route map for the company to establish a global reputation for ethical business conduct and the company is now in the process of implementing a programme to achieve this goal. The company will report on its progress to date in its forthcoming corporate responsibility report, which will be independently assured by Deloitte.
I hope this general summary of the company's position and the extensive additional background information in the Woolf Committee's Report is of assistance to you and your team.
The Al Yamamah Programme
Our `on the record' comment, which appears below, re-iterates what we have said in the past.
The allegations you propose to highlight in your programme have been widely aired in the past and are the subject of ongoing investigations in the UK, US and elsewhere. BAE Systems' view is that the interests of the company as well as of all its stakeholders, including the general public, are best served by allowing these investigations to run their course. The company is working with regulators towards that end, with a view to achieving resolution of the ongoing investigations.
In order to accurately preserve the context in which it has been given, I would ask that this statement be used in full. It can be attributed to either myself, by name, or a company spokesperson, whichever best suits the style of your programme.
Dan [Hirst, Black Money associate producer,] has previously mentioned that your programme is to be launched on April 7. Is this a preview showing at your conference in California, or a scheduled transmission slot on television? It goes without saying that this is one programme I am keen to watch.
Thank you for your willingness to include a statement from BAE Systems and, as previously mentioned, I would ask that this be used in full.
Director of Group Media Relations
BAE Systems plc
BAE Systems plc, Registered Office: 6 Carlton Gardens, London, SW1Y 5AD, UK. Registered in England & Wales No: 1470151