Document:Millbank Technical Services
With an office in Abbey Orchard Street, a convenient few strides from the Ministry of Defence, MTS was set up in 1967 as a limited company. It was a subsidiary of an almost equally obscure state body, the Crown Agents, which acted as the purchasing organisation for various British colonies.
The Crown Agents wanted MTS Ltd as a legal corporate entity, which would make it easier to put together credit deals for the Crown Agents' customers. Brown, however, saw MTS as a handy conduit for other purposes.
The MoD's own direct use of agents to pay bribes was only partially successful. Restrictive limits on fees were imposed by civil service bosses in the name of respectability, and ambassadors were often surly.
But arms deals laundered through MTS might work better. Foreign buyers frequently wanted the apparent respectability of official government-to-government package deals, while Whitehall wanted to pretend it had nothing to do with bribery and its inevitable stench.
The motto at MTS was therefore henceforth to be: "Now you see it; now you don't."
Brown urged the use of MTS as a laundering channel. He said MTS could "be put forward as a quasi-official body to act as a trustworthy intermediary ...on behalf of MOD". [document]
An internal memo spells out his thinking: "All firms which really want to export have [...] agents. Is it considered that there is a taste of impropriety about employing agents? If so, we should clarify our minds about this [...]
"Use of alternatives. MTS is the obvious organisation. They [...] employ agents [...] We would need to know if MTS would in principle be prepared to operate on this basis." [document] The answer was yes. MTS was willing to do the dirty work, in return for a fee.
MTS would buy the tanks from the MoD in a paper transaction. MTS would also dispatch the secret cash to the Shah.
MTS would then ship the tanks to the Iranian army, and present an inflated bill for tanks plus bribes.
The trickery of the MTS scheme was approved in Britain at the highest level.
Suffield's arms sales team informed his permanent secretary that "MTS employ agents on our behalf [...] This arrangement obviates the possible need for Defence Sales to employ agents of their own."