Bri­tain launches fraud probe into Air­bus

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

BRI­TAIN’S Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice has opened a crim­i­nal probe into Air­bus Group, in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of fraud, bribery and cor­rup­tion.

“These al­le­ga­tions re­late to ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties con­cern­ing third-party con­sul­tants,” the SFO said in a state­ment.

The author­ity said it opened the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in July and asked any­one with rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to come for­ward.

A spokesper­son for the SFO said ad­di­tional de­tails of the probe would not be made public un­til charges were brought or the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is dropped.

Euro­pean plane­maker Air­bus said it was aware of the probe and the avi­a­tion firm was work­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“Air­bus Group has been in­formed by the SFO that it has opened a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of fraud, bribery and cor­rup­tion in the civil avi­a­tion busi­ness of Air­bus Group re­lat­ing to ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties con­cern­ing third-party con­sul­tants,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

“Air­bus Group con­tin­ues to co­op­er­ate with the SFO,” the state­ment con­cluded.

The com­pany was in­formed on Au­gust 5 that the author­ity had launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, an Air­bus spokesper­son told AFP.

“We our­selves de­tected this is­sue and self-dis­closed it to the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties.

“This is as an ef­fort of our en­hanced anti-cor­rup­tion [pol­icy]. Man­age­ment has taken ro­bust ac­tion and is de­ter­mined to re­solve this is­sue in co­op­er­a­tion with the au­thor­i­ties,” spokesper­son Jeremy Greaves said.

Air­bus in­formed au­thor­i­ties of the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in April. The same month the UK Ex­port Fi­nance de­cided to sus­pend ex­port cred­its to the firm, a move fol­lowed by France and Ger­many.

The avi­a­tion firm said at the time it hoped to re­solve the fi­nanc­ing prob­lem as soon as pos­si­ble.

The cur­rent SFO in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to take years.

The probe was de­scribed by the Fi­nan­cial Times news­pa­per as a “se­vere blow to the Euro­pean air­craft maker” which would be ex­ploited by its US ri­val Boe­ing.

Air­bus is the largest com­mer­cial aerospace com­pany in Bri­tain and last month said its net profit rose 15 per­cent in the first half of the year.

Prof­its were up 1.76 bil­lion eu­ros (US$1.94 bil­lion), but the gain was due to ex­cep­tional items that masked a slide in op­er­at­ing earn­ings.

The com­pany was hit by charges of just over 1 bil­lion eu­ros re­lated to its trou­bled A400M mil­i­tary cargo trans­porter pro­gram, while ad­verse currency move­ments and charges on its wide­body A350 air­craft to­talled nearly 900 mil­lion.

How­ever these were com­pen­sated for by the sale of shares in Das­sault Avi­a­tion and the cre­ation of a rocket launcher joint ven­ture with Safran that gen­er­ated a net gain of nearly 1.9 bil­lion eu­ros.

Ahead of Bri­tish vot­ers’ de­ci­sion in June to leave the EU, Air­bus said it would re­con­sider fu­ture in­vest­ment in the coun­try if the ref­er­en­dum took the UK out of Europe.

“Air­bus Group’s suc­cess in the UK is pred­i­cated on a highly com­pet­i­tive, in­te­grated Euro­pean busi­ness model,” ex­ec­u­tives said in a let­ter sent to em­ploy­ees in April. –

Photo: EPA

Bri­tain’s Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of “fraud, bribery and cor­rup­tion” in the civil avi­a­tion busi­ness of Air­bus. Ger­many and France joined Bri­tain in halt­ing ex­port cred­its.

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