A British court issues its decision in the case of the “Saudi National Guard”

On Wednesday, a London court acquitted the former managing director of an Airbus subsidiary of charges of paying millions of pounds in bribes to high-ranking officials linked to the Saudi National Guard, to win major contracts.

Geoffrey Cook, former director of GPT Special Project Management, a subsidiary of Airbus, was accused of paying about 9.7 million pounds ($12.2 million) to intermediaries to win contracts from the Saudi National Guard between 2007 and 2012, along with John Mason.

The case focused on GPT, whose sole job was to provide communications systems for the Saudi National Guard under a contract with the British Ministry of Defence.

Cook, 67, appeared on trial at Southwark Crown Court, alongside John Mason, 81.

Cook’s attorney, Tom Allen, told the jury in an earlier hearing that the payments had gone to intermediaries since the late 1970s “with the supervision, approval (and) encouragement of our government.”

Allen added that there is no doubt that 9.7 million pounds sterling was paid, but Cook’s actions do not constitute corruption, noting that senior British officials, politicians and diplomats were aware of and approved such payments, which totaled about 60 million pounds sterling since 1978, and that a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia described it as “deniable manipulation.”

Both Cook and Mason pleaded not guilty, and the jury acquitted them after deliberating for approximately 30 hours.

Cook was also facing one charge of misconduct while holding public office between 2006 and 2007, when he worked at the British Ministry of Defence. He was convicted on this charge.

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