The dove comes home to roost

Saudi pressure on the British government got BAE out of the Al-Yamama bribery case. But now it faces charges relating to South Africa, Tanzania, the Czech Republic, and Romania.

In Arabic, al-yamama means “the dove.”  Capitalized, Al-Yamama is among the largest international-bribery cases ever brought, until it was killed by Tony Blair on orders from Riyadh.   Billions of dollars flowed from British Aerospace (BAE) into the pockets of Saudi officials; some of it may have flowed onward from the bank account of Prince Bandar al-Sultan (“Bandar Bush”) into the pockets of al-Qaeda terrorists.

But the British Serious Frauds Office, cheated of its prey in that case, has kept at BAE, and is now ready to bring charges regarding bribery in South Africa, the Czech Republic, Tanzania, and Romania.

I’m looking forward to the testimony.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “The dove comes home to roost”

  1. Professor Kleiman–

    It seems a bit unlikely that the inner circle of the Saudi royal family are so negligent that they'd overlook a front-page story about themselves in the London papers. Or that they'd neglect underlings embezzling several billion dollars from them. Or that Tony Blair suppressed the investigation despite their outraged demands for the truth.

    Much more likely that the money wasn't embezzled at all; that it went where the Saudis wanted it to go, but that was some place embarrassing (for whatever reasons); and that Mr Blair was accomodating their request for discretion.

    1. Of course al-Yamama reflected stealing by the Saudi royal family, not from it. If you regard the land of Saudi Arabia and the people who live on it as the private property of the House of Saud, there was no scandal. But if you believe that even a monarchy is a steward of it's nation's resources and not their owner, there's no contradiction in charging the royal family with theft of public funds, or BAE with colluding in such a theft.

      In this case, the evidence that some of the diverted funds went to al-Qaeda gives the issue a special urgency.

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