Austrian Count Charged In BAE Bribery Investigation

Britain's Serious Fraud Office charged Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly with corruption over defense contracts between BAE Systems and some European countries.

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Serious Fraud Office on Friday charged an Austrian count with corruption over defense contracts between British arms company BAE Systems PLC and some European countries.

The SFO said the charges against Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly related to allegations that he conspired with others to bribe officials in countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria to supply BAE's Gripen Eurofighter jets for a seven-year period starting in 2002.

Mensdorff-Pouilly, 56, a former agent for BAE, is due to appear in court later Friday, the SFO said.

BAE's dealings have been under scrutiny in recent years.

On the orders of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, the SFO halted an inquiry in 2006 into whether BAE offered bribes in exchange for Eurofighter contracts in Saudi Arabia.

The SFO said that Friday's charges followed a joint investigation by Britain's Ministry of Defense Police and Austrian authorities.

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