The Strategist

Munich prosecutor's office to charge Airbus with bribery

10/09/2017 - 14:18

German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the prosecutor's office in Munich is preparing a charge against European aircraft company Airbus. The company may be accused in using the system of "black cash registers" and alleged bribes, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

Laurent ERRERA
Laurent ERRERA
Using corruption schemes, the concern managed to sell aircraft to a number of countries in 2016, including Kazakhstan, China and Indonesia, the publication further notes. Der Spiegel points out that the investigators have information on more than 100 cases of illegal payments, which scale reaches millions.

Spiegel Online quotes a phrase aired in June by Airbus CEO Thomas Enders at a private meeting with the company's top managers: "We are in an extremely serious situation."

According to the publication, the center of corruption charges is the Airbus branch in Paris. The office took part in creation of a network of shell companies around Vector Aerospace company. The Munich prosecutor's office is confident that the firms were created to transfer bribes to the responsible persons in Austria who participated in the deal to acquire Eurofighter fighters. In addition, these firms could transfer money within transactions on passenger and transport aircraft, Spiegel Online writes further.

JThe journalists note that the head of Airbus was aware about that Vector Aerospace was created. In 2016, the management of the concern itself reported on the committed illegal actions to the British anti-corruption agency SFO. The company was checked by French and German authorities for corruption. As a result, 16 employees of the concern were accused in corrupt practices. The list, however, does not include Airbus’s head. According to the media, the concern is facing billions of fines.

In February this year, the Vienna prosecutor's office opened a criminal case against Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus division), as well as against European aircraft consortium Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug. The companies are suspected of fraud while concluding a contract with the Austrian Defense Ministry to supply Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. The total amount of the contract numbered $ 2 billion, but the Austrian authorities believe that the suspects hid the real value of the purchased aircraft.

In August 2016, it became known that the agency to combat major fraud (SFO) of Great Britain initiated a criminal investigation into Airbus on suspicion of corruption, fraud and bribery. It was all about illegal business in Saudi Arabia and the use of third-party consultants in concluding transactions. Airbus itself then said that the concern was cooperating with the investigation.

In December 2014, an investigation into Airbus was already conducted in Germany. Then the concern was also suspected of corruption in implementation of projects to ensure the security of the borders of Saudi Arabia and Romania. The company’s offices were searched, but no formal charges were brought.