BAE tops global list of largest arms manufacturers


BAE Systems which has been embroiled in allegations of bribery and corruption, has topped a list of the world's 100 largest arms manufacturers, the first non-US company to do so, according to figures released today.
BAE produces a wide range of weapons systems, including Eurofighter-Typhoon jets and Trident nuclear missile submarines. It sold $32.4bn (about £21bn) of arms in 2008, says the Stockholm international peace research institute (Sipri).
BAE's sales last year were even higher, according to company figures. Its record performance was largely due to increased sales by its subsidiaries in the US, which account for more than half of its business.
BAE is a major contractor to the US defence department. Sipri's report says that, in 2008, it ranked fourth in the Pentagon's list of awarded contracts and was the only non-US company in its top 10 contractors.
In February, BAE agreed to pay $400m to the US in penalties for wrongdoing. The admission ended years of US Department of Justice investigations into alleged kickbacks in worldwide arms deals, notably Saudi Arabia.
In a court filing, the justice department claimed that BAE transferred millions of dollars to Swiss bank accounts controlled by an agent, with a high probability that a payment would go to a Saudi Arabian official in a position of influence. There have been allegations that BAE had a £60m slush fund to underpin the Saudi al-Yamamah arms contract, which has been worth £43bn over 20 years. BAE has denied the allegations.

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