Pension Fund Told to Pursue BAE Suit in Britain

January 4, 2010 ( - A pension fund may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to let it sue BAE Systems Plc in the United States, the fund's lead attorney said, according to Reuters.

A U.S. appeals court ruled this week against the City of Harper Woods (Michigan) Employees’ Retirement System, saying English law, not U.S. law, governed the shareholder lawsuit over claims BAE spent more than $2 billion bribing Saudi Arabian officials to garner business. The District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court’s finding, left the fund to pursue its case in Britain.

Reuters reports that Patrick Coughlin, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said the fund had no plans to take its case to England. The plaintiffs had argued the United States should have jurisdiction because the alleged bribes went to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and others through an account at Riggs Bank, a defunct Washington D.C. financial institution. BAE defendants countered that nearly all of them reside outside the United States, and none in Washington D.C.

The pension fund charged that current and former directors and executives of defense contractor BAE breached their fiduciary duties and wasted corporate assets by allowing the illegal bribes and kickbacks in a 1980s arms deal (see Pension Fund Accuses BAE of Bribing Saudi Officials for Business).

BAE has denied wrongdoing.