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How Many Investigations Into Bandar's Favorite Defense Firm?

That leaves Congress. The Financial Times reported over the weekend that congressional staffers may take a new interest in the deal in light of the Serious Fraud Office inquiry in Britain. There's no word yet about whether any congressional panel has opted to open its own inquiry into BAE, but the Bandar-related bribery accusations in the U.K. press might change that.

There's another organization that might take up an inquiry, though this one is somewhat more of a longshot. The interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is reviewing BAE's attempted purchase, and is reportedly close to finishing its standard 30-day review. But CFIUS -- made famous in the Dubai Ports World scandal -- doesn't have a mandate to deal with bribery issues, only potential threats to national security, and so is unlikely to flag the deal for scandal, since BAE already does significant business with the Pentagon. It's possible, though, that CFIUS might expand its investigation if congress shows serious interest in BAE or uncovers some further scandal. CFIUS representatives haven't returned TPMmuckraker's phone calls.

It's worth mentioning that an investigation into BAE will hardly guarantee new revelations about Bandar. If the U.K.'s abandoned Serious Fraud Office probe is remotely on target, there's a host of questions about BAE's bribery trouble in any number of countries. But if anything is likely to expose more about Bandar's alleged kickbacks, it's one or more of these agencies -- that is, if any of them opt to pull the trigger on a full-blown investigation that's sure to be politically explosive.