©2017 by Corruption Watch UK

State Sponsored Bribery? Airbus's Saudi Saga and the UK's Ministry of Defence

The Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into Airbus’s UK subsidiary GPT Special Project management is one of the most politically symbolic investigations on its books.  GPT is alleged to have made suspicious payments to offshore companies acting as subcontractors on a government to government contract between the UK Ministry of Defence and Saudi Arabia’s National Guard.

Corruption Watch UK's new report tells the story of GPT and makes recommendations about how the allegations should be tackled.

Corporate Accountability for Grand Corruption and the Rule of Law in the UK

This project will explore whether the UK legal system and enforcement regime are adequately holding companies to account for corruption and whether justice is being served by the introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) to tackle corporate corruption. It is intended that the project will actively attempt to influence the policy and legal environment, to ensure that that the UK legal framework (and particularly corporate liability laws) is fit for purpose, that DPAs are used in a limited and appropriate way rather than as a short cut for dealing with politically sensitive and difficult cases, and that companies alleged to have been involved in corruption are properly brought to justice.

Dereliction of Duty: How Weak Arms Export Licence Controls in the UK Facilitated Corruption and Exacerbated Instability in the Niger Delta

Corruption Watch’s newest report tells the story of how a a UK-registered company, CAS-Global Ltd, bought a second hand naval vessel (the KNM Horten), and exported it into the hands of a company controlled by a former Nigerian Warlord – via the UK. Based on newly obtained documents, the report reveals the reasons why the UK government approved the export license for the deal, and outlines why this decision was flawed. It concludes with recommendations as to how the UK’s arms export licensing regime can be reformed to properly take corruption into account.

Project Indefensible

Indefensible: The Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade, was published in 2017 by Zed. The book was conceived and executed as a partnership between Corruption Watch and the World Peace Foundation. Corruption Watch's Paul Holden is the lead author and editor. Corruption Watch works with multiple international partners to raise awareness of the book and the issues it raises. Read the full text of the book, and more about Project Indefensible, via the link below.

Off the Hook: Corporate Impunity and Law Reform in the UK

Corruption Watch UK’s new report looks at the background to and arguments for corporate liability reform and the options for reform. It concludes that an extension of the offence of failure to prevent under Section 7 to economic crime, and possibly more broadly to serious crime, would be a significant step in the right direction of improving UK corporate liability laws. A failure to prevent model of corporate liability would also help ensure that the UK is able to comply with EU Directives which require liability for corporations where there has been “lack of supervision or control”. It is questionable whether the UK is currently compliant with several EU Directives which require liability for corporations without such changes to its corporate liability regime. However, extending Section 7 should be done in tandem with a broader and comprehensive review of the UK’s corporate liability laws to ensure coherence and consistency in how corporations are held to accoun

Shadow World

In 2016, a full-length documentary feature based on Andrew Feinstein's Shadow World was released to wide international acclaim. The documentary continues to be shown around the world, both at bespoke screenings and on major national broadcasters. Corruption Watch continues to work with activists and other groups to host screenings of the documentary to encourage activists to engage on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The Angola-Russia Debt Deal

Corruption Watch was approached in late 2011 with a significant cache of documents that provided insight into one of the most egregious cases of financial mismanagement and corruption.

Via the insertion of dubious middlemen, hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted from the treasuries of Russia and Angola (one of the poorest countries in the world) to the benefit of political figures and businessmen. Corruption Watch’s report on the Deal was published in April 2013. Corruption Watch intends to continue to advocate for renewed criminal investigations into the Deal.

Out of Court, Out of Mind: Do Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Corporate Settlements Fail to Deter Overseas Corruption?

Corporate settlements are increasingly becoming the preferred tool for dealing with economic crime by large corporations, particularly in the fields of bribery and corruption. In its 2014 Foreign Bribery Report, the OECD found that 69% of foreign bribery cases were dealt with by way of settlement.

In this wide-ranging report, Sue Hawley looks at the history and experience of corporate settlements around the world and concludes that their current use falls short of providing a proper deterrence - and that new global standards for the use of settlements are a vital and urgent necessity.

The Corporate Crime Gap: How the UK Lags the US in Policing Corporate Financial Crime

The UK has a serious problem holding its companies to account. If you’re a big multinational company and you’re caught engaging in serious economic crime such as financial fraud or money laundering in the UK, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be found criminally liable. If you’re unlucky, you might be let off with a relatively small fine. 


A company committing an economic crime in the US is far more likely to be hit with heavy criminal, civil and regulatory penalties than one in the UK. There is no reason to suppose that this is because US companies are more criminal than UK ones. Indeed, many of the companies that have been penalised in the US are British banking institutions. 

Corruption Watch conducted an in-depth analysis of the enforcement of major financial crime and money laundering cases in New York and London over the past decade, which we set out in our new report.

Over the course of the past year, Corruption Watch has been advocating for open justice reform, and carrying out a programme of court monitoring, which includes attending all major foreign bribery hearings in England.


This work - along with interviews with journalists, public officials and lawyers - has allowed us to identify a number of areas where open justice is lacking, including court lists that have resulted in vastly reduced media coverage of corruption trials, and secretive procedures, like Unexplained Wealth Orders, which are taking place without any civil society or press scrutiny. This report makes a series of recommendations to increase open justice in the court system as well as prevent anti-corruption enforcement in the UK being weakened by a lack of transparency.    

Leonardo SpA, previously called Finmeccanica, one of the top ten largest defence companies on the planet, and partly owned by the Italian state, has over the past decade been embroiled in multiple corruption scandals around the world. This report covers the most egregious of those scandals and recommends action by multiple actors to deal with these issues.

Corruption Watch UK, has, over the last three years, investigated and tracked these corruption scandals engulfing the company across the world. Our research a perplexing lack of any formal investigations by UK authorities into the UK actors involved in the corruption allegations against Leonardo, specifically Leonardo’s UK subsidiaries. This lack of formal investigation raises serious questions about the UK’s commitment to ensuring that UK actors are held to account for their role in alleged global bribery schemes.

Accountable Asset Return: UK Country Level Civil Society Report

In December 2017, the USA and UK will co-host the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) – a meeting of
practitioners and policy experts focusing on assistance to Nigeria, Ukraine, Tunisia, and Sri Lanka. GFAR is an
opportunity to build bridges to enable future collaboration and make concrete and measurable commitments
to improving asset recovery efforts. In light of the approaching event, this paper sets out the strengths and
weaknesses of the UK system, analyses cases relevant to GFAR countries, and makes recommendations for