Skip to main content

Airbus to pay $5.5b in worldwide bribery settlement cases

PARIS/LONDON/WASHINGTON • Airbus bribed public officials and hid the payments as part of a pattern of worldwide corruption, prosecutors said on Friday as the European planemaker agreed to a record US$4 billion (S$5.5 billion) settlement with France, Britain and the United States.

The disclosures, made public after a nearly four-year investigation spanning sales to more than a dozen overseas markets, came as courts on both sides of the Atlantic formally approved settlements that lift a legal cloud that has hung over Europe’s largest aerospace group for years.

Among others, UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said Airbus sponsored a sports team owned by AirAsia executives while negotiating airplane orders.

AirAsia officials have strongly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the 2012 sponsorship agreement between the Caterham Formula 1 racing team and Airbus’ then parent EADS. The airline said yesterday it has “never made purchase decisions that were premised on an Airbus sponsorship”.

Said US District Judge Thomas Hogan about the case against Airbus: “It was a pervasive and pernicious bribery scheme in various divisions of Airbus SE that went on for a number of years.”

The deal, effectively a corporate plea bargain, means Airbus has avoided criminal prosecution that would have risked it being barred from public contracts in the United States and European Union – a massive blow for a major defence and space supplier.

Prosecutors said individuals could still face criminal charges, however.

Airbus, whose shares closed down 1 per cent, has been investigated by French and British authorities for alleged corruption over jet sales dating back more than a decade. It has also faced US inquiries over suspected violations of US export controls.

“In reaching this agreement today, we are helping Airbus to turn the page definitively” on corrupt past practices, said French prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert.

France’s financial prosecutor said the company had also agreed to three years of “light compliance monitoring” by the country’s anti-corruption agency.

The US Department of Justice said the deal was the largest-ever foreign bribery settlement.

In a packed hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, an Airbus lawyer said the settlements “draw a clear line under the investigation and under the grave historic practices”.

Outlining detailed findings, the UK’s SFO said Airbus had hired the wife of a Sri Lankan Airlines executive as its intermediary and misled Britain’s UKEF export credit agency over her name and gender, while paying US$2 million to her company.

Court filings in Britain and the United States outlined efforts to keep relationships and payments secret, including the use of code-names such as “Van Gogh” and payments described as “medications and dosages prescribed by Dr Brown”.

The British investigation also identified bribery allegations involving Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways, Garuda Indonesia and Citilink Indonesia. TransAsia went bankrupt in 2018.

The US court documents outlined bribery and lavish hospitality involving plane sales to China.

At the centre of the Airbus case was a decades-old system of third-party sales agents, run from a now-disbanded headquarters unit that at its height involved some 250 people and several hundreds of millions of euros of payments a year, sources familiar with the matter have said.

Airbus has said it halted payments in 2014 after discovering false statements on the use of agents to Britain’s export credit agency and later took its findings to UK authorities.

REUTERS

Source: Read Full Article

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Google accused of creating 'creepy' spy tool to squelch worker dissent

Google workers are accusing the company of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor their attempts to organise protests and discuss labour rights.Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers' computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News, and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren't authorised to talk to the press.The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, "is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organisation attempts."Google is using the new software tool to police its own workers amid r…

At Least 23 People Dead in Australia Bushfires As Blazes Continue Raging

SYDNEY (AP) — A father and son who were battling flames for two days are the latest victims of the worst wildfire season in Australian history, and the path of destruction widened in at least three states Saturday due to strong winds and high temperatures.The death toll in the wildfire crisis is now up to 23 people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after calling up about 3,000 reservists to battle the escalating fires, which are expected to be particularly fierce throughout the weekend.“We are facing another extremely difficult next 24 hours,” Morrison said at a televised news conference. “In recent times, particularly over the course of the balance of this week, we have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level.”Dick Lang, a 78-year-old acclaimed bush pilot and outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton, were identified by Australian authorities after their bodies were found Saturday on a highway on Kangaroo Island. Their family said their losses left them…

It will take 100 years for women to earn the same as men at this rate

The wage gap between men and women is 20%, meaning women get paid 80 cents to every $1 men earn, according to a recent study.The pay gap narrowed about 2% in the last ten years. If things don't improve, it will take a century for women to reach equal pay, according to Goldman Sachs.The firm said at least part of the unexplained gap could be due to the lack of women in highly-paid senior roles, despite being on average more educated than men.It could take a century for women to be paid as much as men, if things stay as they are now.The wage gap between men and women is 20%, meaning women get paid 80 cents for every $1 men earn. In the last ten years, the pay gap only narrowed about 2%, and if performance stays consist with the past decade's, it would take 100 years to reach equal pay, according to Goldman Sachs."The latest data show there's more work to do," said Amanda Hindlian, global COO of global investment research at Goldman Sachs in a note titled "Clos…