BAE pleads guilty and pays fine

BAE Systems, Europe's biggest military contractor, pleaded guilty in a US court to conspiring to make false statements in connection with foreign arms contracts and will pay a $400m (£267m) fine.

BAE announced last month it would resolve a long-standing inquiry by the US Department of Justice into questionable payments it made to secure arms contracts in Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and other countries.

The Justice Department said BAE had violated commitments it made to the US government in 2000, when it was seeking to expand into the United States, to comply with the anti-bribery provisions of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The $400m fine is one of the biggest levied against a defence contractor, comparable to the $402m that US engineering and contracting group KBR paid in February 2009.