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UK-Zimbabwe: BAE linked to Zimbabwean arms dealer

BAE Systems, the British arms manufacturer under investigation in several countries for alleged bribery, paid at least £20m to a company linked to a Zimbabwean arms trader allied to President Robert Mugabe, documents seen by the Financial Times show.

John Bredenkamp, who has indefinite leave to remain in Britain, has had a controversial career ranging from supplying military equipment to the Zimbabwean military to mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

British properties owned by Mr Bredenkamp were raided by the Serious Fraud Office more than 18 months ago as part of a long-running investigation into BAE aircraft sales to South Africa. The payment of at least £20m is the first detailed evidence of a financial relationship between Mr Bredenkamp and the group.

The payments raise fresh questions about BAE’s dealings with outside agents, intermediaries who sometimes act as brokers in arms deals. Agents have featured in investigations into whether BAE channelled bribes to foreign officials to win contracts.

BAE refuses to provide details of its relationships with agents, although it has pledged to introduce reforms as part of an effort to improve its image after the corruption investigation into its multibillion-pound al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The payments linked to Mr Bredenkamp were made between 2003 and 2005 by Red Diamond Trading, a BAE subsidiary registered in the British Virgin Islands, from a London-based Lloyds TSB account, according to documents seen by the FT. The money was transferred to Kayswell Services, also registered in the British Virgin Islands, a company in which the documents list Mr Bredenkamp as a beneficiary.

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