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GRIPEN

Saab to cut Swiss Gripen fighter price: report

Swedish defence firm Saab will cut the price on its Gripen fighter jet to ensure that it wins a Swiss order after French planemaker Dassault threatened to undercut its offer, a report said Wednesday.

Saab to cut Swiss Gripen fighter price: report

In November, Dassault lost out on a bid to replace Switzerland’s ageing F5 fighter fleet when the Federal Council opted instead to buy 22 Saab Gripen planes for an estimated 3.1 billion francs (2.6 billion euros).

“The price will be less than 3.1 billion (francs), Saab’s Switzerland director Anders Carp was quoted by the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger as saying.

Sources cited by the newspaper suggested the new price could be between 2.5 and 2.8 billion francs.

It is understood Saab wants to challenge a reported counter-offer by Dassault proposing 18 Rafale planes for 2.7 billion francs.

Dassault sent a letter outlining the proposal to the security commission of the Swiss parliament, which still has to approve the Gripen purchase.

The Swiss government must formally endorse the deal this month and it will then be sent to lawmakers for final approval later this year.

Saab has said Bern can sign the Gripen contract directly with the Swedish government which would act as a guarantor in the event of any difficulty in delivering the aircraft, Hakan Jevrell from the Swedish defence ministry told Tages Anzeiger.

Last month, India announced it had selected Dassault as sole bidder to negotiate a sale of 126 Rafales estimated at $12 billion (9.1 billion euros).

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CORRUPTION

Fresh bribery claims in Swedish jet scandal

Swedish defence firm Saab paid around a billion kronor to shady middlemen as part of a controversial deal to sell fighter jets to South Africa, according to documents obtained by a Swedish tabloid.

Fresh bribery claims in Swedish jet scandal
A Jas 39 Gripen jet flies above Cape Town in South Africa. Photo: AP Photo/mbr/The Star

Saab's sale of 28 Jas 39 Gripen aircraft – later reduced to 26 – to South Africa has been tainted by scandal and corruption allegations ever since it took place back in 1999.

The Swedish defence giant has always denied any wrongdoing in the deal which was mainly carried out by a subsidiary owned by Saab and British BAE and has said that no evidence of any suspect deals has turned up in its internal investigations.

But according to Sweden's Expressen newspaper, internal BAE documents handed to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), a UK-based government authority that investigates fraud and corruption, show that money was paid out to shady agents suspected of being involved in bribery.

According to the paperwork, 7.25 percent (or 13 billion kronor – $1.58 billion) of the total sales of the Gripen planes and the British Hawk aircraft was potentially handed over to secret agents. According to Expressen, the claims formed part of a UK investigation into bribery allegations linked to this cash.

Other classified documents published by the newspaper on Thursday suggest that BAE's former head of marketing for South Africa and Asia, Allan MacDonald, told SFO officers several years ago that Saab had been kept informed of all costs and the agents involved.

“I gave them more information than they had ever got before and they were informed about the arrangements with the agents on chief executive level. They knew,” the documents suggest he said.

In a statement to Expressen published on Thursday, Saab's press spokesman Sebastian Carlsson dismissed the claims that almost a billion kronor was handed to agents, but did not deny that large payouts were made.

“There's nothing strange about a person receiving compensation for the work they do. So I mean, that's not the problem, if there is a problem. The problem would in that case be what a person does,” he told the newspaper.

“If it was 7.5 or 6.5 or 4.5 or 10.5 percent [is irrelevant]. That's nothing, that's what it was like 'in the good old days'. But I can tell you that if back then you had these kinds of commission-based contracts in the export industry, the sums could sometimes be high,” he added.

Saab is one of the world's leading defence and security companies and has around 14,700 staff around the world. It is not connected to Saab Automobile.

Earlier this year it was ranked as one of the European arms companies best at tackling corruption by the Transparency International thinktank.