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LAIRD ARRESTED IN ARMS DEAL PROBE; Fraud cops question count.

Byline: By Lachlan Mackinnon

AN AUSTRIAN count who owns a castle in Scotland has been arrested in an international arms deal investigation.

Count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, 55, a consultant for BAE Systems, was travelling from his Perthshire home - Dalnaglar Castle in Glenshee - to Austria when he was held.

The Serious Fraud Office are probing suspected bribery by BAE to win European military contracts.

The count's lawyer, Harald Schuster, said officers were looking into whether Mensdorff-Pouilly's firm used money from BAE to bribe people in positions of power over arms contracts in countries including Austria and the Czech Republic.

Schuster said: "He was only asked to go along for questioning. It was a very proper conversation."

After his arrest, Mensdorff-Pouilly went with investigators to Carlisle, where the SFO have jurisdiction, with his chauffeur-driven car following behind.

As part of the probe, investigators raided his castle - where guests pay pounds 250 a night - as well as three homes in London. Addresses in Hungary and Austria were also raided.

The count, along with another man arrested on suspicion of corruption, was released on police bail to appear early next year. Schuster said he denied all wrongdoing.

Investigators in the UK, Sweden and Czech Republic are probing a pounds 1.1billion agreement, which was later cancelled, to sell 24 Gripen fighter aircraft to the Czech military.

It was a 50-50 joint venture between BAE and Saab of Sweden, who later took over the project.

Last year, an investigation into BAE's arms deals with Saudi Arabia in the 80s was controversially scrapped.

BAE have always denied bribery and insi st that they "wholeheartedly" support the SFO's ongoing investigations.

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LUXURIOUS: Guests pay pounds 250 a night to stay at Dalnaglar Castle; QUIZ: Mensdorff-Pouilly
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 2008
Words:288
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