LONDON, June 17 (UPI) -- BAE Systems, Britain's largest defense company, said it will appeal a U.S. court ruling in connection with bribery allegations.
The ruling would extend the term of an independent compliance monitor the company must hire as part of a large settlement deal struck with the U.S. Justice Department after the bribery allegations surfaced. The settlement included the provision that BAE Systems hire an independent monitor within 90 days of the March 1 verdict. The provision stipulated that the monitor would serve until March 1, 2013.
BAE Systems missed the deadline but said it did so because U.S. authorities rejected three nominated candidates. Washington said the candidates weren't experienced enough.
A U.S. federal judge extended the deadline to hire the monitor by 90 days to Aug. 30 and the term of the monitor also by 90 days. BAE Systems Wednesday filed a notice of appeal to the judge's ruling, arguing that the monitor could fulfill his job by the original March 1, 2013 deadline.
BAE Systems in February accepted guilt in a scandal concerning large-scale bribery in an $85 billion arms contract. BAE Systems, after years of denying allegations of corruption and bribery, agreed to pay $400 million in fines for defrauding the United States over the sale of fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia and Eastern Europe.
The deal halted a 6-year investigation that threatened the British company and the Saudi royal family. At the tine, London's The Guardian daily, which first reported on the alleged bribery in 2004, declared, "To Britain's shame, these admissions have been forced out of BAE, not by the U.K.'s own prosecutors, but by those of another country."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006 had forced Britain's Serious Fraud Office to drop its investigation on the grounds of "national security."
BAE Systems is one of Europe's largest arms companies. The main equipment manufacturer of the British armed forces and strong in the United States where it generates more than half of its sales, BAE Systems is building two aircraft carriers for the British navy and is involved in the Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter programs. In September 2009, the company announced it would reduce its workforce by more than 1,000 positions in Britain until 2012.