Thursday, February 3, 2011

MoD was warned of SAR 'misconduct'

A rival bidder for the UK's £6bn Search and Rescue helicopter PFI deal warned the Ministry of Defence about possible misconduct in the bidding process two years before an investigation was launched, according to reports.

The Soteria consortium, consisting of Thales UK, Sikorsky, CHC and equity partner The Royal Bank of Scotland, was announced as preferred bidder for the 25-year contract in February 2010.

According to a report in The Financial Times, rival bidders the UK Air Rescue consortium, consisting of Serco, AgustaWestland, Bristow and FBHeliservices, wrote to the MoD in 2008 complaining that military officials working on the privatisation deal had taken jobs with consortium members.
The officials in question were said to come from the Search and Rescue Helicopters integrated project team.
The MoD is said to have responded that it was satisfied with the bidding process, which continued until the 2010 preferred bidder announcement.

The UK Air Rescue consortium later withdrew from the bidding process, citing concerns over a lack of protection of commercially sensitive information. 

An investigation into the allegations was launched in December 2010, and the Royal Bank of Scotland has since left the Soteria consortium.
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