LONDON (Reuters) - Senior EADS EAD.PA executives were alerted five years ago about potential bribes to Saudi Arabian officials to win a communications contract, the Financial Times said on Tuesday.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office has formally launched a criminal probe into allegations involving a $3.3 billion contract awarded to an EADS subsidiary, GPT Special Project Management.
A financial controller of GPT alerted his superiors about the payments as early as 2007, according to emails cited by the newspaper.
The financial controller initially contacted GPT's managing director and the chief executive of Paradigm, GPT's parent and part of EADS's Astrium space division, the FT said.
GPT provides communications and intranet services for the Saudi National Guard, which protects the Kingdom's royal family.
The financial controller's fears centre on questionable payments made to Cayman Island bank accounts and lavish gifts given to the Saudi Arabian royal family and military.
The allegations first surfaced in employment tribunal proceedings and were made by a former GPT employee who claimed Saudi officials were given luxury cars, jewellery and large sums of cash from London accounts through intermediaries.
Reporting by Stephen Mangan; editing by M.D. Golan