Airbus reaches deal to settle corruption probe


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Airbus

Airbus says it has agreed a settlement with French, British and US authorities following lengthy investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption.

In a statement, the European planemaker said the deal was subject to approval by courts in the three countries.

The allegations have centred on the use of middlemen in plane sales.

Details have not been revealed, but reports suggest that Airbus – based in Toulouse in south-west France – could pay more than €3bn (£2.5bn) in fines.

“Airbus confirms that it has reached agreement in principle with the French Parquet National Financier, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US authorities,” the company said in a statement.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and later its French counterpart, opened investigations into Airbus after the firm reported itself in 2016.

The SFO opened its investigation in August of that year into allegations of “fraud, bribery and corruption” in the civil aviation business of Airbus.

The firm employs more than 130,000 people globally, including about 10,000 in the UK. It asked the regulator to look at documentation about its use of overseas agents.

Export credits

In the run-up to the SFO’s investigation, UK, French and German authorities froze export credit applications by Airbus, but reversed that decision in 2018.

Export credits are used by many governments to support exporters, often by giving their backing to bank loans offered to overseas buyers of UK products.

In the past, they have proved useful in giving cash-strapped airlines the ability to afford new Airbus planes.

The investigations followed concern that Airbus had failed to disclose the use of middlemen in such deals.

The US also requested information from the UK and French investigations, amid suspicions that arms export rules could have been violated.



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