Eurofighter Typhoon

Airbus corruption scandals spread to US

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Aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus, already fighting fraud and bribery charges in Europe, has admitted to US authorities that it may have broken federal rules on arms sales abroad.

The company admitted that it had provided false information to the US State Department about its failure to comply with regulations on arms trafficking. This false information is related to rules on fees and commissions paid to sales agents handling military products or services.

According to the company, the inaccuracies were uncovered during an internal review and it provided information about these inaccuracies to US authorities voluntarily.

“Following a review of its US regulatory compliance procedures, Airbus has discovered and subsequently informed relevant US authorities of its findings concerning inaccuracies in filings made with the US Department of State,” the company announced in a formal statement.

It added that it was fully cooperating with US authorities. It is not known whether the State Department will choose to press criminal charges.

Airbus is already under investigation for fraud and wilful deception in Austria and Germany, with the Austrian government stating that Airbus and the Eurofighter Consortium may have misled it about the price of a €2 billion order of Eurofighter jets, as well as their specifications and likelihood of delivery. Airbus is accused of having dishonestly charged nearly 10 per cent of the total price for “offset deals”.

Airbus has argued that these fraud charges are “politically motivated”.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into Airbus, having identified “irregularities” in its dealings to export commercial aircraft, which could have involved bribery in order to secure deals abroad through independent sales agents.

The Toulouse-based company is under investigation by French authorities for the same alleged offences.

In its quarterly financial report, released this week, Airbus admitted that despite net profit rising in the third quarter, fines resulting from investigations in Europe could have “negative consequences”, affecting its finances. In an industry heavily dependent on closing mammoth deals with governments, Airbus’ internationally tarnished reputation could hinder its future success.

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