Outgoing SFO boss lets off steam about Al Yamamah

The outgoing head of the Serious Fraud Office has decided not to go quietly.

As his four-year term comes to an end, Richard Alderman has concluded that massive damage was done to the UK’s reputation for dealing with corruption when it shelved a bribery investigation into the Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“I gave a presentation to some judges in another jurisdiction in another part of the world about the UK’s tough approach to bribery. They listened. They smiled. And, at the end of it, they said, ‘And now, Richard, tell us about BAE and Saudi Arabia,’” he told investigative website Exaro (www.exaronews.com).

“The damage that was done by what happened was great and will last for a very long time,” he said. “It was very regrettable and very unfortunate.”

The SFO’s former head Robert Wardle took the decision to drop the probe but only after much pressure from Tony Blair.