Airbus to pay $5.5b in worldwide bribery settlement cases

Andrew Cummings
February 1, 2020

European planemaker Airbus will pay 3.592 billion euros ($5.26 billion) in global corruption fines once settlements are reached, France's financial prosecutor said on Friday.

The UK Serious Frauds Office (SFO) investigated Airbus for four years, these reports said. British and French authorities are investigating alleged fraud and bribery related to Airbus' use of outside consultants to sell planes. USA authorities were also investigating Airbus'compliance with American arms trafficking regulations.

"Airbus engaged in a multi-year and massive scheme to corruptly enhance its business interests by paying bribes in China and other countries and concealing those bribes", said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, who leads the Justice Department's criminal division.

Airbus has reached an agreement to settle corruption charges with France's financial prosecutor for 2.08 billion euros, the prosecutor said. Friday's ruling only concerned Airbus as a company.

The U.K. court approved a so-called deferred prosecution agreement in which Airbus will pay Britain a total of 991 million euros.

The US Department of Justice said the deal was the largest-ever foreign bribery settlement.

Court filings in Britain and the United States outlined efforts to keep relationships and payments secret, including the use of code-names such as "Van Gogh" and payments described as "medications and dosages prescribed by Dr Brown". There were also allegations that bribes were paid in Indonesia and Nepal.

At the centre of the Airbus case was a decades-old system of third-party sales agents, run from a now-disbanded headquarters unit that at its height involved some 250 people and several hundreds of millions of euros of payments a year, sources familiar with the matter have said.

"Under the MACC Act we are empowered, and have jurisdiction to investigate any act of corruption committed by any Malaysian citizen or permanent resident in any place outside Malaysia", she said in a statement today.

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