Straits Herald February 1, 2020

Airbus is set to pay a massive 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) in fines to Britain, France and the US to settle corruption inquiries sparked by suspicious equipment sales, according to a deal approved by a French court Friday.

Airbus will pay 2.1 billion euros in to French authorities, as well as 984 million euros in Britain and 526 million euros in the US.

The European aerospace giant said this week that it had already set aside the money, while awaiting court approval of the deal.

“These agreements are made in the context of investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption, as well as compliance with the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations,” Airbus said on Tuesday.

Similar court hearings to approve the deal are expected in London and Washington later on Friday.

The fines are expected to weigh heavily on the company’s 2019 earnings, set to be released on February 13.

But the settlement allows Airbus to avoid costly litigation over suspected corruption that emerged from an internal investigation in 2016.

In 2013, it began finding discrepancies in the amounts recorded for several contracts over previous years and in the handling of middlemen.

Airbus reported the findings to France’s Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and the US Department of Justice, submitting some 30 million documents in total to investigators.

Meanwhile, US authorities suspected that Airbus did not obtain necessary approval for the export of some military equipment that contained American-made components.

Airbus manufactures civilian and military aircraft, from drones and helicopters to long-haul commercial airliners, along with rockets, satellites and communications systems.

The affair became a factor in a large-scale executive shake-up at Airbus that ended in April 2019, when Guillaume Faury replaced Tom Enders as chief executive.

Despite the financial settlements, any executives found to be implicated in the corruption can still face prosecution. – AFP