Airbus To Pay $3.2m To The UK, US and France To Settle Bribery and Corruption Probe
Airbus will pay an estimated £2.5billion in penalties to the UK, US and France to settle a long-running corruption probe.
Europe’s biggest plane maker has been investigated by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) since 2016 for suspected bribery and corruption over jet sales dating back more than a decade.
The case centres on payments made to middlemen consultants who brokered lucrative deals with potential customers in new markets.
Airbus allegedly used high-paid fixers to ease through sales of A380 planes worth billions to China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The SFO said it has agreed a type of deal known as a deferred prosecution arrangement to close the case.
This type of settlement means a company can avoid criminal prosecution if it admits wrongdoing and pays a penalty, avoiding expensive, lengthy court action.
Airbus’s deal is expected to surpass a £671million deal Rolls-Royce struck in 2017.
It said it has also reached preliminary agreements with France’s fraud investigator, the Parquet National Financier and US authorities.
The investigation involves British money because Airbus was awarded money through an export scheme.
Analysts estimate the plea bargain could total as much as £2.5billion.
The plane maker reported itself to the SFO in 2016 and has made changes in the hope of striking a deal.
It has sacked more than 100 people over ethics and compliance issues and a number of top management roles have changed hands.
The Toulouse-based group has also cut down on the number of middlemen used.
Airbus is part-owned by the French, German and Spanish governments as well as US shareholders. It has 134,000 staff worldwide with more than 14,000 in the UK.