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Munich prosecutor fines Airbus to conclude bribery investigation

Airbus has agreed to pay a $99.5 million (€81.25 million) fine to conclude a six-year-old investigation by the Munich Public Prosecutor into allegations of bribery involving a 2003 sale of Eurofighter Typhoons to Austria, the company announced on 9 February.

The settlement allows Airbus to resolve the investigation with no finding that the company had bribed Austrian officials directly or through intermediaries to select the Typhoon over other bidders.

Instead, the public prosecutor charged the fine to Airbus on an administrative misdemeanor, the company says. The notice says that the former management of Airbus Defence and neglected their supervisory duty to prevent employees from “making payments to business partners without proven documented services in exchange”, Airbus says.

“The notice explicitly recognizes the major efforts undertaken by Airbus and its management since 2012, which have resulted in a new compliance culture and a serious compliance programme,” Airbus says.

The conclusion of the case in Germany still leaves uncertain the status of the Eurofighter fleet in Austria. A left-wing Austrian government last July promised to retire the Tyhpoon fleet early, claiming that Airbus misled procurement officials on the offset benefits. But Austrian voters last fall returned to power a right-wing government, which has yet to clarify its intentions for the Typhoons.

Meanwhile, Airbus’ legal troubles are not over yet. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and France’s Parquet National Financier (PNF) continue to investigate Airbus’ self-disclosed irregularities in fees to third-party consultants on commercial and defence contracts. Moreover, Airbus last fall also self-reported to the US Department of State inaccuracies in filings for export licenses involving financial payments for political campaigns or outside consultants.

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