BAE insists talks with SFO are continuing

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The Independent Online

BAE Systems yesterday insisted talks were continuing with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over a long-running corruption investigation, despite speculation the agency was set to press criminal charges late last night.

The SFO has been in talks with BAE to agree a settlement over alleged bribery relating to contracts BAE won in Saudi Arabia, which the company contests. Talk that the SFO had set a deadline of last night has escalated, leaving company insiders bemused. "BAE knows of no deadline," one said.

The company issued a statement yesterday, saying it was in its best interests to allow the "ongoing investigations to run their course". It continued: "The company is working with regulators towards that end and is providing access to people, information and premises whenever requested. It wholeheartedly supports a rigorous approach, in the hope that it brings to a conclusion enquiries which, in the case of the SFO, are now in their sixth year."

A spokesman for the SFO said: "We have been in discussions with BAE over coming to a speedy resolution. We have not said there has been a deadline."