Swedes to earn less on Swiss Gripen deal: report

The pending Swiss purchase of Swedish Jas Gripen fighter jets won't add as much to state coffers as previously publicized estimates, according to Swedish media reports.

Swedes to earn less on Swiss Gripen deal: report

According to the terms of a deal struck between Sweden and the Swiss government, Switzerland has set aside a total project budget of 3.1 billion Swiss francs, or roughly 21.5 billion kronor ($3.3 billion) for the purchase 22 Gripen E fighters, Ny Teknik magazine reports.

The Swiss will also rent eleven Gripen C and Gripen D planes for five years as part of the deal.

But “secret” documents about the deal reviewed by the magazine reveal that Switzerland will actually pay only 17.7 billion kronor for the fighters.

The new figures mean that the price for each Gripen to be sold to Switzerland as a part of the deal will sink by about about 20 percent, from one billion kronor to 800 million.

The new figure also means a drastic reduction in the overall proceeds of the deal, which is still awaiting approval by Switzerland, as the cost of building the planes is estimated to be around 17.2 billion kronor.

All income from the deal will go straight to the development of the new Gripen E, according to the Ny Teknik report, which reported that the recently released Swedish budget clearly showed that selling fighter jets to Switzerland was pivotal to finance the continued research and development of the aircraft.

“The income from Switzerland must be made available in addition to funds already agreed upon by parliament,” the budget proposal read.

Earmarking the sales money and directing it to the fighter-jet programme is unusual, Defence College professor Gunnar Hult told the magazine.

“Traditionally, money from state-level plane deals has gone not to the armed forces but to the finance department,” he said.

Either, the government has signaled that the Jas Gripen developers need the cash, he underlined, or it is political maneuvering to make sure the programme has funding regardless of the hashing out in parliament of details of the country’s entire defence budget.

The result would be that the Swedish state would take home very little of the income, Ny Teknik noted.

Furthermore, wrangling over how much the Swiss state should pay Sweden upfront has been ongoing, with Ny Teknik reporting that the Swedes wanted 60 percent of the price tag, while the Swiss were gunning for 15 percent.

The compromise landed on 40 percent, to be paid out by 2018, according to reports in Swiss media.

Later on Wednesday, Swedish defence export agency FXM (Försvarsexportmyndigheten) denied that claims by Ny Teknik that the deal would bring in less money to Sweden.

“It’s totally wrong,” FXM spokeswoman Sofia Karlberg told Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

She claimed the Ny Teknik was comparing two different things and that there hadn’t been any change in the price for the Swiss Gripen purchase and that the 17.7 billion figure for the price of the planes can’t be compared with the 21.5 billion kronor framework agreement price, which also includes money for support, logistics, and weapons.

She added that the actual per-plane price of the Swiss Gripen deal is classified.

TT/The Local/at

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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.