The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) admitted that it has lost a total of 32,000 documents and 81 audio recordings and electronic media linked to a BAE Systems investigation. BAE Systems plc (LON:BA) is a global company engaged in the development, delivery and support of advanced defence, security and aerospace systems. The investigative body said that it has lost electronic media between May and October 2012.
Serious Fraud Office: Data lost will have no effect on national security
“The SFO has a duty to return material to those who supplied it, upon request, after the close of an investigation,” said an agency spokesman.
However, the data lost will not have an adverse effect on national security, and also the data lost did not influence any conviction from the case.
He said that sources have been given additional materials, obtained from other parties. The agency spokesman also said that it is a matter of concern and SFO is taking all necessary actions to make sure that the incident does not repeat.
After identifying the data loss in June, the Information Commissioner’s Office appointed Peter Mason, former director of security at the Palace of Westminster, to assess the situation. Mason said that the loss of documents and other materials occurred accidentally, and also suggested a number of proposals like keeping the data under the ownership of the operational staff, revising the responsibilities of the Serious Fraud Office’s senior Information Risk Owner, along with increasing the profile of data handlings.
Serious Fraud Office investigating BAE for past six years
The Serious Fraud Office has been investigating BAE Systems over the past six years regarding contracts won by the company in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and South Africa along with other countries.
Back in December 2010, Southward Crown Court revealed that BAE did not keep proper accounting records related to its contract in Tanzania for the supply of an air traffic control system to the government. Due to the irregularity, BAE was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £225,000 in legal costs to the SFO. In the U.S., BAE was fined $79 million for violations of the U.S. defense export control regulations.
Eddie Cunningham, one of the persons who first put light on the matter and gave some important material to SFO, said that he is shocked and is concerned about one who got or copied the information. He added that any person who will give information to the government body will now be concerned as the organization is so reluctant. Cunningham got a letter from SFO in which it was mentioned that the data may be lost or copied.
Labour MP Emily Thornberry, shadow attorney general, said that it is utter incompetence on the part of government.