Airbus reaches 'agreement in principle' over corruption probe

28 January 2020, 06:39 | Updated: 28 January 2020, 10:31

Airbus has reached an "agreement in principle" with French, UK and US authorities over an investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption.

The planemaker said it could not comment on precise details of its talks with the French Parquet National Financier, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US authorities, but confirmed it had reached an agreement with all three.

Airbus has been investigated by French and British authorities for almost four years over suspected corruption dating back more than a decade.

The Serious Fraud began its investigation in July 2016 over claims of fraud, bribery and corruption in Airbus's civil aviation group.

The allegations related to irregularities concerning third party consultants.

At the centre of the case was a decades-old system of third-party agents or intermediaries run from a now-disbanded unit which at its height involved some 250 people across parts of the world, sources told Reuters news agency.

Airbus has already fired more than 100 people over ethics and compliance issues as a result of its own investigation into the corruption claims.

In the US Airbus has faced investigations over suspected violations of export controls.

Airbus said in a statement early on Tuesday: "These agreements are made in the context of investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption as well as compliance with the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

"They remain subject to approval by French and UK courts and US court and regulator."

The Financial Times earlier reported that Airbus could pay out huge sums to reach the settlement, quoting analysts as predicting fines of more than €3bn (£2.5bn).

This would surpass the record £671m penalties handed down to Rolls-Royce for similar allegations two years ago.

Airbus is still being investigated by German authorities over alleged misuse of client documents.