Saudi prince rejects reports he received British arms deal money

A Saudi prince received millions of pounds for his own use as part of Britain's largest arms deal, the British Broadcasting Corp. said. In a program to be broadcast on Monday, the BBC reports that the payments went to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who negotiated the 40 billion-pound (€60 billion; US$80 billion) Al-Yamamah arms deal to sell 100 warplanes in 1985, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. In a separate report, the Guardian newspaper alleged Prince Bandar was paid about 1 billion pounds (US$2 billion; €1.5 billion) over 10 years. The newspaper, citing unnamed legal sources, said the payments were authorized by the Ministry of Defense. It added that the payments had been characterized as fees for marketing services. BAE Systems, the prime contractor, has denied that it ever violated British law in relation to the contract. Prince Bandar issued a statement Thursday "categorically denying" having received any "improper secret commissions or back handers" over the arms deal.