Nov 5 - G4S, the world's largest security firm, has confirmed it will cooperate with a fraud probe connected to its criminal tagging operations. But, as David Pollard reports, the investigation is just the latest in a list of headaches.
G4S is under the spotlight again - this time from the UK's fraud authority It's alleged they charged the government for security tagging criminals who were dead, in prison or had never been tagged. There's extra bite to the allegations after a series of high-profile blunders. Marian Bates was shot dead in a raid on a jeweller's shop by Peter Williams, and his accomplice - after Williams had removed his tag. The company monitoring him hadn't noticed. Years on, Marian's husband, Victor, blames the government for outsourcing criminal monitoring to companies like G4S. SOUNDBITE (English), Victor Bates, husband of fatal shooting victim Marian Bates, saying: "Many of the duties that these so-called security companies carry out for the government should never have been put out for private tender and should not be administrated by private companies whose chief aim in life is to make money." G4S hit the headlines last year when the army had to drafted in because it failed to meet a contract for staffing the London Olympics. It says it will cooperate with the latest inquiry. It's already the object of a separate investigation into its dealings with other companies. And it's under investigation for abuse at the world's second-largest privately run prison, in South Africa. G4S denies allegations that it electrocuted and drugged prisoners before the authorities stepped in to restore order. But as the largest employer listed on the London Stock Exchange, it's hard to deny its financial muscle. With operations in over 120 countries, it had a turnover last year of £7.3 billion - a profit of over half a billion. And, in a bid to shake off investor concerns, it says it's ready to turn itself around. One third of its business is in emerging markets. And under a new plan to shake off investor concerns, they're to be targeted even more. The company also says thirty-five units within the business are to be sold, grown or restructured. Investors like Joe Rundle of ETX Capital, are sanguine about that claim. SOUNDBITE (English), Joe Rundle, Head of Trading, ETX Capital, saying: "I think if it can get its house in order and the change in CEO will do that, I think it does give an opportunity to buy discounted stock but a rocky road's ahead." G4S is not allowed to bid for new contracts whilst the investigations are on-going, but that appears not to have dulled its appetite. It's believed to be interested in a new contract for UK probation services, worth around £500 million.