Airbus to pay $3.9bn in fines to avoid corruption proceedings

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Paris, Feb 1 (IANS) Global aerospace major Airbus announced that it has agreed to pay fines of almost 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) to avoid corruption proceedings in France, the UK and the US.

The European aeronautical group agreed to pay 2,083 million euros to France’s Parquet National Financier (PNF), Efe news reported citing Airbus as saying in a statement.

In exchange, the PNF has agreed to suspend prosecution of Airbus for a duration of three years.

An investigation was opened in France in July 2016 over contracts for the sale of civil and satellite aircraft between 2004 and 2016.

Airbus will also have to pay 984 million euros to the British authorities and 526 million euros to the US Department of Justice, also in exchange for the deferral of investigations in the two countries.

On Tuesday, Airbus announced it had a principle agreement with the PNF, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice.

Since then it set aside a provision of 3.6 billion euros on account of the year 2019.

The fines will be reflected in last year’s financial results, which will be presented on 13 February, which means Airbus is unlikely to report a profit of more than 3 billion euros as it did in 2018.

The issue has caused a significant threat to the company, including not being able to bid for public tenders.

It relates to the alleged use of a network of secret intermediaries to obtain civil and military contracts and the possible breach of US regulations on international arms trafficking.

In 2016, Airbus reported itself to the SFO, which launched a series of inquiries on the alleged use of consultants, later France’s PNF did the same.

The US Department of Justice also opened an investigation into a possible violation of regulations on the sale of weapons.

Upon receiving export credits from government agencies in Europe, the company was obliged to state intermediaries were involved in the contracts and if it did not do so it risked being exposed to criminal proceedings.

Airbus said in a statement it has taken “significant steps to reform itself and to ensure that this conduct will not reoccur” and added it is “committed to conducting business with integrity”.

Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus, added: “The agreements approved today with the French, UK, and US authorities represent a very important milestone for us, allowing Airbus to move forward and further grow in a sustainable and responsible way.

“The lessons learned enable Airbus to position itself as the trusted and reliable partner we want to be.”

–IANS

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