Transcripts of bugged telephone conversations have plunged an Anglo-Italian company deeper into trouble for alleged bribery over a defence deal. The taped conversations, coupled with whistleblower testimony to Italian prosecutors, shed light on the role of a British businessman, Christian Michel, as a middleman in the allegedly corrupt contract in which the Indian Air Force bought 12 helicopters from AgustaWestland for €556 million.
Business / INSOLVENCIES
Liquidations of UK companies are running four times higher than they were just before the credit crunch hit, analysis by Exaro reveals.
This month’s Exaro Insolvency Index compares current data with figures before the UK tumbled into the worst recession for decades, showing the impact of the financial crisis on businesses. However, it also suggests that the level of insolvencies has started to fall.
Scotland Yard is investigating allegations that a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation sabotaged Sky TV’s biggest rival, Exaro can reveal. Detectives in the Metropolitan Police Service’s “specialist crime and operations” section are assessing sensational claims that a technology firm then part-owned by News Corporation, NDS, used a computer hacker to undermine On Digital, which was plagued by piracy and folded in 2002.
UK authorities are failing to help India investigate alleged bribery over a defence deal with an Anglo-Italian company – despite promises by prime minister David Cameron. Exaro can reveal that the UK government has stalled over formal requests for assistance made by India as it investigates the allegations surrounding AgustaWestland, a UK subsidiary of Finmeccanica, the Italian defence contractor.
Big investors continued to place deposits with Iceland’s banks even as the country’s economy was sliding into serious trouble. Those banks, of course, duly collapsed. An economist who was part of the management buy-out that established Ashmore Investment Management argues how pensions funds are being put at risk as governments in the West use ‘financial repression’ to finance national debt.
Demands by tax officials for client lists and other third-party data sets have increased by nearly a half since the coalition government came to power. Figures released to Exaro under the Freedom of Information Act show that HM Revenue & Customs used its powers to obtain “bulk information” many more times in the tax year just ended, compared with 2010-11.
Figures for corporate insolvencies are lower than we might expect at this stage in a recessionary cycle, writes the Insolvency Practitioners Association’s chief executive. But this downturn and recovery has a markedly different shape and length compared with previous recessions. The inaugural Exaro Insolvency Index last week showed that the number of UK companies going into administration or receivership is falling this year.
Exaro Insolvency Index
Analysis by Exaro shows that the number of UK companies going into administration or receivership is falling this year compared to 2012. The total number of administrations and receiverships fell by just over a fifth in the three months to April compared with the same period last year. However, the analysis also shows that liquidators are being appointed to more companies.
Bosses at the UK’s Serious Fraud Office are preparing to explain a fall in its conviction rate for the fourth year in a row. The SFO’s annual report for 2012-13, expected to be released by July, will say that it has fallen to around 71 per cent. This is down from 91.7 per cent in 2009-10, and the SFO’s performance has triggered criticism from MPs.
Investigators at the Serious Fraud Office are preparing to drop their investigation into allegations of bribery surrounding a contract to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s military communications. A key SFO insider told Exaro that the director, David Green, was working out how to manage the decision to drop the investigation, saying that it had already “been left for dead” and was “gathering dust”. Update 25 April 2013 3.15pm.
Britain signed up to international commitments to tackle bribery but is still failing to treat it as a serious crime. The Serious Fraud Office is charged with combatting corruption by British companies in overseas trade. Its credibility was undermined over the ‘Al Yamamah’ deal in 2006, but it has been given a second bite at the bribery cherry with the ‘Sangcom project’.