It amounts to nearly half of a £14bn liability built up by the controversial Export Credit Guarantee Department, including at least £3bn resulting from arms sales by UK defence companies to countries he claimed are ‘unlikely to pay up’.
The liability includes an unknown proportion of £5.2bn in liabilities amassed before 1992 for arms deals.
Cable said: ‘If the government continues using taxpayers’ money to underwrite risky business with foreign countries, the British taxpayer will probably end up footing the bill for some of the deals done at the Docklands arms fair this week.
‘Britain’s taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for providing warplanes to foreign countries.’
He said it was ‘staggering’ the government was unable to state exactly how much has already been paid out due to arms deals that went wrong, labelled such losses ‘a scandalous misuse of public funding’ and demanded: ‘Subsidies for arms sales should stop now.’
The potential liabilities include £500m resulting from sales to Indonesia and £1m to Zimbabwe, £622m to Iraq, £165m to Serbia and £584m to Russia.
Guarantees continue to be given in relation to trade with countries with poor financial security including Brazil and undisclosed recent sums in respect of which there is no information for reasons of ‘commercial confidentiality’.
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