Michael Paterson alerts EADS compliance division to suspicious transfers to Cayman
Part 3 of the inside story of ‘bribes’, Saudi Arabia and the Sangcom project…
Deeply disturbed in Riyadh about his defence company’s mysterious Cayman payments, Paterson alerts the compliance division of a company higher up the EADS structure.
He contacts Philippe Troyas, international compliance officer for EADS Astrium, based in Paris.
For reasons that he does not specify, Paterson is convinced that his life is in danger. He does not identify the source of the threat, but, he says, Troyas agrees.
According to Paterson, he receives a text from the Frenchman in September 2009, saying: “Be cautious when moving around, like driving. Same for wife.”
“We discussed repatriation for you and your family based around the threat to your safety that you described”
– HR officer, Astrium
Troyas, Paterson and an EADS executive meet in London in November. Paterson says that the EADS executive undertakes “to resolve” the accountant’s “lack of work”, but then fails to do so.
Payments to Simec continue. According to Paterson’s schedule, another £3 million in six transfers are approved the following month. The money is again routed through HSBC, New York.
His colleagues also approve gifts of luxury cars to the commander of the signal corps at the Saudi national guard and his deputy.
Meanwhile, GPT’s efforts to secure a fourth, much bigger phase of the Sangcom project pays off. GPT was appointed prime contractor for a fourth LOA from February 2010. They call it LOA3 phase 3, instead of LOA4, as if it were an extension of existing arrangements. According to former GPT insiders, it runs until 2020, and is reportedly worth £2 billion.
The e-mails suggest that Troyas remains concerned that Paterson’s life – and the lives of his wife and baby – are in danger because of the serious allegations that the accountant is making.
According to Paterson, Troyas writes in an e-mail in February 2010: “I did fear that you were endangering yourself when you first reported to me.
“Not being a military, nor having any experience in ‘secret ops’, I tried to lie back, thinking to myself, ‘Do not alarm yourself. This is real life. We are not in a bad espionage novel.’
“To be honest, considering the external environment, I have failed fully to convince myself. So, I still urge you to be cautious.
“Now, I renew my word to you: if you or your new family are physically assaulted or worse, I shall speak up. My sincere recommendation to you, should you want to go ahead is, first, to leave the country… speak to a UK lawyer in order to assess the case (which may not be what you believe), and find directions whether SFO or CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] is the best way, and eventually go to the British Press.”
Later that same month, Paterson again discusses his “lack of work” at a meeting with the same EADS executive as previously. According to Paterson, he receives the same promise, but nothing changes.
In June, Paterson goes to Paris to meet Pedro Montoya, Spanish corporate lawyer and chief compliance officer at EADS. Jacques de Cordemoy, chief compliance officer at Astrium, also attends.
Paterson’s boss asks the ‘human resources’ department of Astrium to contact the troubled accountant.
Still the payments to the Cayman company continue. Another seven transfers totalling more than £2.5 million are approved in July, according to Paterson’s schedule. This time, the money is routed through HSBC in London.
Two additional transfers totalling just over £300,000 are paid at the same time, but the documents do not show the beneficiary bank.
A further payment of £140,910 is approved, according to Paterson’s schedule, for another Cayman-registered company, Duranton International – again via HSBC, London.
Two days after all those payments, an HR officer and Paterson speak on the telephone in July 2010.
The HR officer then e-mails to say that he will explore providing safety-awareness training for Paterson and his family. “We discussed repatriation for you and your family based around the threat to your safety that you described.
“I understood from our discussion that you felt that this was not necessary. However, we need to be sure that neither you nor your family are exposed to any potential threats to your safety.
“So, we have a combined action to agree an effective course of action to distance you and your family from this threat of harm.”
But Paterson is even scared about returning home…
Additional research by Alex Varley-Winter.