MoD official paid £9.7m in bribes to Saudi military chiefs court hears

Ministry of Defence official paid £9.7m in bribes to Saudi military chiefs to get contracts and took double his salary in kickbacks himself, court hears

  • Jeffrey Cook, 65, ‘paid £9.7 million in bribes to Saudi military chiefs for contracts’
  • He was also ‘paid double his MoD salary in kickbacks by the sub contractors’
  • Cook is denying all charges against him at the Southwark Crown Court trial
  • A former Ministry of Defence official paid nearly £10 million in bribes to top brass in the Saudi Arabian military in exchange for contracts, a court heard.

    Jeffrey Cook, 65, helped funnel the money to the officials in the Saudi National Guard so they would continue to use his company to improve their military communications, it is claimed.

    Cook was also the managing director of the Airbus subsidiary GPT Special Project Management Ltd, which was responsible for the installation and maintenance of the communication systems.

    He used his position to authorise the flow of £4 million a year, 12.3 per cent of GPT’s profits, from his company to sub-contractors, known collectively as Sinec, it is alleged.

    Jeffrey Cook, 65, helped funnel the money to the officials in the Saudi National Guard so they would continue to use his company to improve their military communications, it is claimed

    Jeffrey Cook, 65, helped funnel the money to the officials in the Saudi National Guard so they would continue to use his company to improve their military communications, it is claimed

    From this, 70 per cent was then passed on to Saudi officials between 2007 and 2012, Southwark Crown Court heard.

    The former civil servant is also charged with misconduct in public office over contracts placed with ME Consultants Ltd while working for the MoD between 2004 and 2008.

    The total amount paid to the Saudi officials between 2007 and 2012 was £9,724,723, Mark Heywood, QC, prosecuting, told the court.

    Terence Dorothy, who also worked for the MoD, was commissioned in 2006 to write a series of reports about how to improve the communications installation project.

    During this time Cook was said to have been paid kickbacks by the sub contractors in relation to these reports amounting to tens of thousands of pounds — double his MoD salary.

    Mr Heywood said: ‘This case is all about corruption. Deep corruption in overseas defence contracts.

    ‘Payments by a UK company were being made to middle men for advice and assistance on getting technical work done.

    ‘The people behind this could be sure that they could keep the lucrative contracts and were in a position to get bigger ones.

    ‘Over 70 per cent of the amount charged by the middle men were sent straight on to very highly-placed officials.’

    John Mason, 79, part-owned GPT and was its accountant. He is also charged with corruption. Above, Mason at Southwark Crown Court today

    John Mason, 79, part-owned GPT and was its accountant. He is also charged with corruption. Above, Mason at Southwark Crown Court today

    John Mason, 79, part-owned GPT and was its accountant. He is also charged with corruption.

    ‘He was the one who received the money, actioned the payments and did the accounting work to ensure that the intermediaries received their share,’ said Mr Heywood.

    ‘Together they ensured that the millions kept flowing and influenced the customers’ decisions and Mr Cook and Mr Mason stood to gain. In a single word the case is one of bribery.’

    Dorothy, 81, and another man, Peter Austin, were also arrested in relation to the corruption but they are too ill to stand trial, the court heard.

    ‘Mr Cook was a civil servant, he worked for years for the MoD and in that role, the prosecution say, he took a large commission in cash amounting to a value in the tens of thousands of pounds,’ Mr Heywood told the jury.

    ‘All that was for contracts for work. He was in a position to help others.

    ‘You will have to decide whether these benefits were received by him and whether he unlawfully misconducted himself in his public office as an MoD civil servant.

    ‘The purpose of giving that money was as an inducement or reward for keeping lucrative contracts with the Saudi National Guard.’

    Cook, of Dolphin Court, New Quay, Ceredigion, Wales, appeared in court wearing a dark vest with a red and white checked shirt.

    He denies one count of corruption and one count of misconduct in public office.

    Mason, of Little Ormesby Hall, Ormesby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, appeared wearing a dark blue suit. He also denies one count of corruption.

    The trial continues.