We responded to these allegations when they were first made many years ago and reached settlements with regulators who investigated them over a period spanning six years. As a result BAE Systems has long since moved on. There are fundamental changes that have taken place over the past decade in the way that the company conducts itself and deals with such matters – not least because of our experience of lengthy regulatory investigations and their impact on the reputation and morale of the Company.
Today, BAE Systems has the most stringent anti-corruption and compliance standards, not just of any defence company, but across business generally. When we appointed Lord Woolf to conduct a review of our business practices in 2007, we agreed in advance to implement every one of his recommendations. The result led to an extensive and deep culture change, now in its 5th year, spanning the entire organisation. Today we have a code of responsible business conduct which other companies come to us to learn from and we are ranked fourth out of 129 companies in Transparency International’s latest defence industry anti-corruption index. We also had a role in the creation of the UK Bribery Act, the main legislative tool through which the UK now ensures effective corporate compliance with ethical standards.
We are a stronger and better run company than we were a decade ago and a recognised leader in business conduct. It is that reputation which has allowed us, for instance, to remain one of the UK’s leading exporters and to become a major and trusted supplier to the Pentagon as one of America’s top ten defence and security companies.
No company can guarantee it will always prevent individuals from acting in breach of its standards. But today we have the systems and procedures in place to guard against this and, most of all, a collective determination amongst the tens of thousands of men and women in our workforce that irresponsible behaviour will never be tolerated.