Airbus, an International pioneer in the aerospace industry has agreed to pay €3.6bn (billion) settlement to end the bribery and corruption allegations that have dogged the pan-European aerospace and the defence company for years.The penalties will be paid to the governments of the three countries that investigated Airbus namely United Kingdom (UK), France and the United States (US).
The colossal fine brings an end to almost four years of turmoil for Airbus after an investigation revealed a sprawling global network of third-party sales agents running from the company’s headquarters in Toulouse. Airbus had subsequently reported itself to fraud investigators for misleading statements it made to the UK’s export credit finance agency about payments made to agents.
The company concluded that it has "reached an agreement in principle" for the settlement of joint investigations by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), France’s Parquet National Financier and US authorities. The deal also covered US arms trafficking regulations. The planemaker agreed to pay the penalties on Friday (January 31, 2020) after reaching settlements with investigators in the UK, France and the US to end inquiries that had started four years ago.
The joint settlement with US, French and British authorities is the largest-ever fine in a corruption case and means that Airbus will avoid a criminal probe that could have led to a ban from bidding on public contracts. The company had funnelled illicit payments through tax havens via two companies that it secretly controlled. It used bribes to boost its business in 20 countries, French prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert said on Friday.
Allison Clare, for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), told the London High Court that the company had paid bribes in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan and Ghana between 2011 and 2015. In the High Court in London, Dame Victoria Sharp, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, approved the settlement struck with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
She said: “The seriousness of the criminality in this case hardly needs to be spelled out. As is acknowledged on all sides, it was grave.”
US settlement was approved in Washington by District Judge Thomas Hogan, who said: “It was a pervasive and pernicious bribery scheme in various divisions of Airbus SE that went on for a number of years.”
“A page is truly turning for Airbus and it can now look toward the future serenely,” Mr Bohnert said in Court on Friday.
Author: Dyuti Pandya