A prosecutor in Sweden has opened a preliminary inquiry into a controversial defense deal to help Saudi Arabia build an arms factory, defense officials said Thursday.
Earlier this month public broadcaster Swedish Radio revealed the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) had secret plans since 2007 to help Saudi Arabia build a plant for the production of anti-tank weapons.
Part of the so-called Project Simoom involved, according to Swedish Radio, FOI's alleged creation of a shell company called SSTI to handle dealings with Saudi Arabia, in order to avoid any direct links to FOI and the government.
“There is now a decision from the prosecutor to open a preliminary inquiry,” FOI Director General Jan-Olof Lind said in a statement, adding that he himself had reported “a suspected crime” to the prosecutor following FOI's own internal review.
FOI is an assignment-based authority under the Swedish Ministry of Defense. The core activities are research, method and technology development, as well as studies for the use of defense and security.
FOI employs around 970 people of whom around 800 are researchers (2010). This makes FOI the largest research institute in Sweden.
FOI provides its customers with leading expertise in a large number of fields such as security-policy studies and analyses in defesce and security, assessment of different types of threats, systems for control and management of crises, protection against and management of hazardous substances, IT-security and the potential of new sensors.