HAIFA - Elbit Systems Ltd. is involved in a corruption scandal regarding a bid to upgrade Bulgarian military equipment, Bulgarian newspapers Duma and Monitor reported.
Elbit, which develops, manufactures, and integrates advanced defense electronic and electro-optic systems, announced on December 20, 2004 it had won a bid worth an estimated $60 million (along with Lockheed-Martin) issued by the Bulgarian defense ministry to upgrade 18 of the Bulgarian army’s Russian helicopters.
Bulgarian newspapers report Elbit’s proposal stood at €57 million and was significantly lower than offers placed by competing companies, such as French company Segem, which offered to perform the job for $82 million, British company BAE, whose proposal stood at $128 million, and Israel Aircraft Industries, which placed an $111 million offer.
“The price proposed by Elbit is unrealistic,” the Monitor said.
One of the terms for participation in the bid was the presentation of a document in which MIL, the Russian company that manufactured the helicopters, guarantees it would cooperate with the company entering the bid.
The Monitor says Elbit forged this document, as the Russian company claimed it had never provided Elbit with such a document.
The finalization of the agreement between Elbit and the Bulgarian defense ministry was scheduled to end January 31, but it has not been signed as of yet. Segem is demanding the cancellation of the bid’s results.
Bulgaria, which recently joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is initiating a project to match its military equipment with NATO’s standards.
Elbit said in a statement “since the announcement of the bid’s results by the Bulgarian defense ministry, several companies have been attempting to undermine Elbit’s success by spreading false rumors through unacceptable methods”.
Elbit Systems' shares are traded on NASDAQ (ESLT) and on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).