Prosecutor Edward Hoseah voiced safety fears over inquiry into ‘dirty
deal’ involving sale of radar system to government
By: David Leigh
Monday December 20 2010
The Tanzanian prosecutor investigating worldwide misconduct by BAE,
Britain’s biggest arms company, confided to US diplomats that “his
life may be in danger” and senior politicians in his small African
country were “untouchable”.
A leaked account [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-
documents/116436” title=”] of what the head of Tanzania’s anti-
corruption bureau, Edward Hoseah, termed the “dirty deal” by BAE to
sell Tanzania an overpriced radar system, is revealed in the US
BAE is to appear in court in London tomorrow, when their system of
making secret payments to secure arms contracts, exposed by the
Guardian, will be officially detailed for the first time.
Every individual involved in the BAE scandal in Britain and Tanzania
has escaped prosecution.
But the arms giant agreed with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to
pay ?30m in corporate reparations and fines, provided the word
“corruption” did not appear on the indictment. A corruption conviction
would debar the company from EU contracts.
The former overseas development secretary, Clare Short, said at the
time: “It was always obvious that this useless project was corrupt.”
Hoseah met a US diplomat, Purnell Delly, in Dar es Salaam in July
2007, and claimed (unrealistically it turned out) he would be able to
prosecute guilty individuals in the BAE case. The US cable reports:
“He called the deal ‘dirty’ and said it involved officials from the
Ministry of Defence and at least one or two senior level military
Hoseah spoke gloomily about the prospects for Tanzania’s anti-
corruption struggle and his original hopes to prosecute the “big fish”
“He told us point blank … that cases against the prime minister or
the president were off the table …” The cable then details
allegations against former leaders and their inner circles, saying
they would be “untouchable”.
“He noted that President Kikwete does not appear comfortable letting
the law handle corruption cases which might implicate top-level
officials.” The cable then says Kwitke “does not want to set a
precedent” by going after any of his predecessors.
There were “widespread rumours of corruption within the Bank of
Tanzania”, Hoseah said, and the island region of Zanzibar was also
“rife with corruption”.
The diplomat noted: “Hoseah reiterated concern for his personal
security … saying he believed his life may be in danger … He had
received threatening text messages and letters and was reminded every
day that he was fighting the ‘rich and powerful’.”
He might have to flee the country. He warned: “He said quietly: ‘If
you attend meetings of the inner-circle, people want you to feel as if
they have put you there. If they see that you are uncompromising,
there is a risk.’ ”
The US embassy noted in a “cynical” aside, that probably the only
reason Hoseah felt obliged to attempt a BAE prosecution was because
the SFO had presented him with “a fully developed case file, brimming
with detailed evidence”.
Today’s court appearance by BAE is the culmination of lengthy attempts
to bring the company to justice since the Guardian exposed its
worldwide secret payment system.
The prime minister at the time, Tony Blair, intervened in 2006 to halt
an SFO investigation into payments to members of the Saudi royal
The US department of justice has had more success than the SFO,
forcing BAE to pay $400m (?260m) in penalties under the US Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act.
?28m radar deal ‘stank’
Tanzania, on Africa’s east coast, is one of the poorest states in the
world, formerly controlled in turn by Arab slavers, German colonists
and the British.
At the time of the radar deal, life expectancy was 45.
Tanzania was forced to apply for debt relief from the west and was
heavily dependent on aid. It is ravaged by HIV/Aids and its GDP per
head is just $723 (465).
President Benjamin Mkapa, whose regime did the deal, was succeeded in
2004 by his political colleague Jakaya Kikwete.
Tanzania, which has no air force, bought the military air defence
radar from BAE in 2001 for ?28m.
It was claimed the Commander system, which was portable and festooned
with anti-jamming devices, could also be used for civilian air traffic
The country borrowed the cost from Barclays, adding to its debt
burden. Both the World Bank [http://www.worldbank.org/” title=”World
Bank] and the International Civil Aviation Organisation [http://
www.icao.int/” title=”International Civil Aviation Organisation]
called the purchase unnecessary and overpriced.
In London, the then development secretary, Clare Short, temporarily
blocked aid payments in protest. “It stank,” she now says of the sale.
She urged an export licence be withheld, but was overruled by Tony
Blair himself. Robin Cook, then foreign secretary, recorded bitterly
in his diary that Dick Evans [of BAE] seemed to have “the key to the
garden door of No 10 [Downing St]”.
In January 2007 the Guardian disclosed that BAE had used an offshore
front company, Red Diamond [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/
15/bae.armstrade?INTCMP=SRCH” title=”Guardian disclosed that BAE had
used an offshore front company, Red Diamond], to secretly pay ?8.4m,
30% of the radar’s ostensible price, into a Swiss account.
The account was controlled by Tanzanian middleman Sailesh Vithlani.
His “consultancy” agreement was, it is alleged, formally signed off in
London by Evans.
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