BAE Systems has moved to dismiss a court case filed by the Michigan City of Harper Wood Employees Retirement System over allegations of bribes paid to a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family in exchange for securing lucrative arms contracts, claiming the case should not be heard in the US due to a lack of jurisdiction.
According to court documents filed in Washington DC, the pension fund's shareholder derivative action against BAE Systems seeks recovery of assets caused through "intentional, reckless and/or negligent breaches of fiduciary duty".
Speaking to Global Pensions, Mary K. Blasy, an attorney with Coughlin Stoia, who is representing the pension fund, said the case was a clear example of a shareholder engagement in corporate governance.
She said the firm was confident the case would be heard in the US as 'about half' BAE Systems' revenues were generated there and reciprocal defence agreements with the US Department of Defense forced the company to comply with US law.
In a statement, BAE Systems said the company believed the proceedings had no substance and would be vigorously contested.
Steven Everard, managing director of the GOAL Group, a class action specialist, said he felt the case had merit and met the required criteria to be brought in the US.
Thomas A. Dubbs, senior partner with New York-based Labaton Sucharow LLP, commented: "This case shows that the trend of cross-border litigation is increasing in an increasingly economically co-dependent world. The US courts are grappling with the jurisdictional issues that are involved with these cases."
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