UK ends Airbus fraud investigation
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has quietly closed an investigation into people associated with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. It is finalizing a long-standing investigation into allegations of fraud, corruption and corruption in Airbus’ civil and military aviation operations.
Airbus closes the door on ugly allegations
The SFO opened its investigation into Airbus in July 2016. Investigators focused on irregularities involving third-party consultants in several jurisdictions. In the spotlight, agreements reached in Ghana, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. These third-party consultants allegedly bribed customers to buy Airbus planes.
In April, Simple Flying reported on a lawsuit brought by Sri Lankan Airlines against Airbus. Colombo-based airline runs after $ 1 billion in damages after Airbus allegedly offered a Bandar-based shelf company Seri Begawan $ 16.8 million in bribes to help facilitate a deal purchase of Airbus aircraft. Sri Lankan Airlines is also seeking to exit from this purchase contract.
Among other allegations, investigators examined an alleged payment of US $ 50 million to Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia in exchange for an order for an Airbus plane. In Ghana, it is alleged that a payment of $ 6 million was made to a relative of a government official to facilitate the ordering of a military plane.
In early 2020, Airbus entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with the SFO in an attempt to close the book on the investigation. Airbus has not been accused of corruption as much as it has failed to prevent it.
In return for a fine of US $ 4 billion, the SFO, along with US and French authorities, would suspend legal action against Airbus, but not the individuals associated with the murky aircraft transactions.
Stay informed: Subscribe to our Daily and weekly aviation news summaries.
SFO drops investigation into individuals associated with Airbus agreements
Under the terms of the DPA, the case remains open until January 2023, but the prosecution will not continue until Airbus pays the fine and agrees to compliance monitoring. In February 2020, Airbus paid the fine.
“Airbus has paid bribes through agents around the world to stack the decks in its favor and win contracts around the world. Corruption like this undermines free trade and fair development ”, said Lisa Osofsky, director of the OFS at the time.
“The OFS investigation remains active and the position in relation to individuals is under study.
“As part of the DPA, Airbus has agreed to cooperate fully with the SFO and its law enforcement partners in all future investigations and prosecutions, as well as on the disclosure of any subsequent wrongdoing by the company or its employees, subject to applicable laws. If Airbus does not comply with the conditions of the DPA, prosecution can resume. “
Last week, the OFS also quietly dropped its investigation of individuals associated with aircraft transactions. This follows a guilty plea by the Airbus subsidiary, GPT, for corruption relating to work carried out for the Saudi National Guard.
The allegations concerned military telecommunications work performed, not aircraft transactions. However, GPT and three people targeted by the OFS have pleaded guilty between fines, costs and confiscation orders, the defendants are now sentenced to approximately 41.5 million US dollars in penalties.
While Airbus appears to be off the hook in the UK, France and the US, the DPA does not prevent authorities in other jurisdictions from taking action against Airbus or individuals associated with the corruption allegations.