Austrian count arrested for Saab Gripen bribes

Austrian count arrested for Saab Gripen bribes
An Austrian count has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to bribe politicians to buy Swedish firm Saab's Gripen aircraft.

Count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly is alleged to have received 13 million euro ($16.5 million) from Saab’s British partner BAE in payment.

Mensdorff-Pouilly is an agent for UK defence firm BAE Systems, a partner of the Swedish firm Saab.

British prosecutors suspect that he bribed Hungarian and Czech decision-makers to encourage them to choose the Gripen fighter aircraft for their respective country’s air force.

He is also suspected of similar offences in connection with Austria’s purchase of the Eurofighter, a direct competitor to the Saab Gripen.

The count was arrested on Friday in Austria and is being detained in Vienna. He is not expected to be granted bail due to the risk of him fleeing from justice and destroying evidence.

Mensdorff-Pouilly is married to the former Austrian health minister Maria Rauch-Kallat.

The news agency APA, which cites reports from news magazine Profil, reveals that the count is thought to have received 13 million euro ($16.5 million).

APA reports that that count is also suspected of forging documents in order to make the payments appear legitimate.

Mensdorff-Pouilly legal counsel confirmed that the count paid sums of money to the Czech Republic, but only to business people – not to politicians.

Swedish prosecutor Christer van der Kwast is investigating bribery in connection with the export of the Gripen aircraft.