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BRAZIL

US tech offer threatens Brazil Gripen deal

Swedish defence firm Saab has faced another setback in its bid to sell its Gripen aircraft to Brazil after a US official announced that it has offered the country a "significant technology transfer" if it buys US-made fighter jets.

US tech offer threatens Brazil Gripen deal

The transfer of military technology is a key factor for Brazil as it considers the Gripen NG made by Saab, the Rafale by France’s Dassault or Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet for a contract worth between $4 billion and $7 billion.

“I would argue that the technology transfer that we are offering of this magnitude would put Brazil at par with our close partners,” Frank Mora, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, told a legislative committee.

When asked if it were accurate that Brazil should not have doubts about the commitment to the technology transfer, he replied, “That is correct.”

“The United States has made a robust proposal of the Super Hornet technology — a significant technology transfer,” he said.

The contract is for 36 fighters with the possibility of many more aircraft in the future.

The competition for the contract has dragged on for years, with President Dilma Rousseff inheriting it from her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had declared a preference for French planes.

Arturo Valenzuela, assistant US secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said during the hearing on Thursday that “we always raise this issue” in talks between Brazil and the US.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Brazil in late March as part of a tour that includes stops in Chile and El Salvador. Brazil and the United States signed a military cooperation agreement in April 2010.

In December 2010, US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks cited by newspaper Aftonbladet reported that Sweden was deceived by both the US and Norway regarding its neighbour’s interest in signing a multi-billion kronor deal to buy Sweden’s JAS Gripen fighter plane.

Norway ultimately decided to purchase the US-made Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 combat aircraft in a deal reportedly worth 55 billion kronor ($7.9 billion).

According to Aftonbladet, the United States threw a spanner in the works of the Gripen deal by stopping the export of an American-made radar component for use on the Swedish plane.

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CARS

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
 
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
 
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
 
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
 
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.
 

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
 
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
 
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
  
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
 
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
 
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
 
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.