Esquerra demands explanations from Spain’s Ministry of Defence on bribes in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia

The Republican Group at the Spanish Congress submits a battery of parliamentary questions to clarify the case of state-owned firm Defex, which according to Anti-Corruption Prosecution bribed Saudi officials in order to ensure weapons sales

The Esquerra Republicana group in Spain’s Congress submitted a battery of parliamentary initiatives on Wednesday aimed at shedding light on the case of the state-owned defence company Defex, dissolved in 2016, accused of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia while paying commissions to several officials of the regime. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office has for years been investigating this company, in which state-owned Sociedad Española de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) held a 51% stake, with the aim of uncovering a system of institutionalized bribes for civil servants and senior officials of foreign governments with whom the export of weapons and munitions was being negotiated. It is estimated this corruption scheme will have deviated 220 million euros.

Recently in the news, one branch of this investigation has focused on 11 contracts with Saudi Arabia between 2005 and 2014. The report submitted by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to the judge includes the detection of bribes in these contracts through payment of €100 million to various Saudi officials’ accounts in tax havens, and even to Mr Al Shamuary, the military attaché at the Saudi embassy in Spain during the same period.

Esquerra has requested Minister of Defence Margarita Robles appear before Congress, and has also submitted several questions to the government on the dealings by the ministry to be clarified regarding these alleged irregularities in weapons sales, and why the supervisory systems failed. In addition, Esquerra has filed a Non-legislative Motion in order to provide the Defence Committee of the Spanish Congress with all the information on the case and to prepare a report on Defex and its activities.

In questions to the Government, Member of Congress Joan Josep Nuet has asked for explanations regarding several statements by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor concerning the "absolute lack of any system of organization and control of the funds administered" by Defex. In this regard, he has called on the Government to specify how the company's activities were overseen and how it guarantees public control over the resources managed by public companies under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence.