American Eurocopter president David Smith has been indicted by the US Government for alleged "irregularities" during the negotiation of a $50 million deal to supply eight Eurocopter AS365N Dauphin helicopters to the Israeli navy for anti-submarine operations.

According to Eurocopter Deutschland chairman and chief executive Dr Siegfried Sabotta, Smith has stepped down for a period of "administrative leave" while he prepares his defence. He has been replaced by Eurocopter vice-president of participations Francois Guisolphe, who takes over as interim president.

Neither Smith nor Eurocopter is prepared to comment on the nature of the charges. Newspaper reports suggest that they relate to "payment of undisclosed commissions to a foreign national".

Smith says that the charges are "baseless" and has pleaded not guilty, while Sabotta says that Eurocopter is providing its president with "full support". The trial is expected to begin in May.


Source: Flight International