Airbus accepts record £3bn fines for

bribery and corruption

After a lengthy investigation regulators in the US, France and the UK have agreed record fines totalling €3.6bn with Airbus to settle claims that it paid hundreds of millions of euro to intermediaries designed to secure Contracts for the purchase of its aeroplanes. Airbus agreed to pay the historic record breaking fines to avoid a further criminal investigation which could have led to higher fines and could have led to Orders preventing Airbus bidding for future public contracts for the purchase of its products.

Airbus agreed to pay €984m to the UK Authorities, €526m to the US Department of Justice and €2.1bn to the French Regulatory Authorities.

The Investigation revealed that Airbus made the secret illicit payments through tax havens via two Companies which it secretly controlled. The investigators said that Airbus paid numerous bribes to secure contracts in 16 countries.

The investigators in the three countries said that Airbus operated a sophisticated system to channel payments on a global basis through third party sales agents all run from the Company’s Headquarters in Toulouse, France which section alone employed some 250 people to manage the payments. As a result of the investigation a number of senior Executives left Airbus and it engaged in a complete overhaul of its ethics and compliance procedures. The investigation was initiated after Airbus made a voluntary disclosure to Fraud Investigators in the UK following upon misleading statements made to a UK Agency in relation to payments to Agents.

The settlement does not cover a further investigation which the UK is pursuing in to a subsidiary of Airbus which is accused of making unlawful payments to secure a separate £2bn UK Government Contract to provide services to Saudi Arabia’s internal Security forces.

Authorities say that the €3.6bn fine is the largest fine in a company's corruption case to date.

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This document is for information purposes only and does not purport to represent legal advice.  
© O’Rourke Reid 2020