It combines the English respect for law and order and legal process, the corruption of the Saudi Government and the French, well, being French.
Did I mention that one great big lovely industrial mountain size heap of money is involved? Almost $150 billion dollars. That will either clear your vision or cloud it. The French are rarely myopic when it comes to money.
The basic story is that the government of Saudi Arabia is set to tear up its £76bn agreement with Britain for Eurofighter Typhoons and hand the contract to France if the British, Serious Fraud Office, opens up secret Swiss bank accounts allegedly linked to members of the Saudi royal family. The Saudis and Chirac are amazed that anyone would consider such a thing and are hoping the British will come to their senses. (Chirac is excluded from the British coming to their senses part). Chirac has other ideas for the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia is considering buying the Rafale fighter plane, made by France's national contractor Dassault. It is understood President Jacques Chirac has stepped up his lobbying of the Saudi authorities. I think it can also be said the when the Saudis asked Chirac if there would be any chance of a French investigation of Saudi finances he gave them an immediate "ce ne sera problème, pas un", or as "day say in dabronx, 'fugetabout it'".
French angle for Saudi billions The Telegraph
By Helen Power and Sylvia Pfeifer, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:25am GMT 26/11/2006
The government of Saudi Arabia is set to tear up its £76bn agreement with Britain for Eurofighter Typhoons and hand the contract to France if the Serious Fraud Office opens up secret Swiss bank accounts allegedly linked to members of the Saudi royal family.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Senior British government sources last night predicted that the Saudi authorities would stand by their promise to cancel the recently signed order for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons if the SFO goes ahead with plans to open up potentially embarrassing bank accounts as part of its long-running investigation into allegations of bribery.
The Eurofighters are being built by a European consortium including BAE Systems, Britain's largest defence contractor. Now, Saudi Arabia is considering buying the Rafale, made by France's national contractor Dassault. It is understood President Jacques Chirac has stepped up his lobbying of the Saudi authorities.
"I think they [the Saudis] genuinely will follow through with this threat," said a government source. "Chirac is waiting in the wings. They are desperate to sell the Rafale."
But a senior defence official said the SFO is unlikely to pull back from its investigation focusing on allegations that BAE bribed Saudi defence procurement officials with millions of pounds-worth of lavish gifts including holidays in Europe and a gold Rolls-Royce in the 1990s to ensure the Saudis continued to buy from Britain under an original defence contract, Al-Yamamah.
"The Saudis don't understand how they can sign a big contract with the UK Government, yet here we are, accusing them of dodgy dealings. The Government can't simply quash the SFO investigation. It is between a rock and a hard place," he said.
The row could have far-reaching consequences for Britain's lucrative trading relationship with Saudi Arabia and threatens tens of thousands of UK jobs. It would also impact BAE, which has denied any wrongdoing.
Although the Al-Yamamah contract is structured as a country-to-country deal, the company has benefited substantially from the agreement in recent years. Mike Turner, the company's chief executive, was quoted last year as saying: "We've had £40bn from Al-Yamamah in the past 20 years; this could be another £40bn."
The lucrative contract, to supply Saudi Arabia with Tornados, was negotiated by Sir Richard Evans, the former chairman of BAE, in the 1980s, with support from then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. At the time, it was Britain's largest export deal.
Another senior government source indicated that feelings are running high in the Desert Kingdom because the government of King Abdullah cannot understand why, when it was at pains to run an open and transparent procurement process on Eurofighter, it is being penalised for an old military contract dating back to Margaret Thatcher.
The SFO launched its investigation three years ago. Since then the Saudi authorities have become increasingly concerned at the way in which members of the royal family have become embarrassed by investigations into alleged accounting irregularities.
The Sunday Telegraph first reported two years ago that the royal family had warned the Government it would never deal with the British arms industry again if any of its members were dragged into the inquiry.