Statement confirms agreement has been reached with French, UK and US officials

Airbus says it has agreed a settlement with French, British and US authorities following investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption.

Airbus’ issued the statement in response to media reports on French, UK and US investigations. The statement confirms that it has reached agreement in principle with the French Parquet National Financier, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and the U.S. authorities.

The statement reads: “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.

Airbus stated that it could not comment on the details of its discussions with the investigating authorities for legal reasons.

Allegations centre on use of middlemen

According to the BBC, the allegations centre on the use of middlemen in plane sales and the report suggests that the Toulouse-based manufacturer could pay more than €3bn (£2.5bn) in fines.

Airbus itself reported its concerns to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in 2016 along with its French counterpart. The SFO opened its investigation in August of that year into allegations of “fraud, bribery and corruption” in the civil aviation business of Airbus.

The firm has asked the regulator to look at documentation about its use of overseas agents. The investigations follow concerns that Airbus had failed to disclose the use of middlemen in such deals.

The US has also requested information from UK and French investigations, amid suspicions that arms export rules could have been violated.

Deals will allow company to avoid prosecution

The BBC reports that the settlements are likely to prove expensive for Airbus, but the deals will mean the company will be able to avoid prosecutions over its use of middlemen in securing aircraft contracts and possible breaches of US arms sales regulations.

Airbus has been restructuring its sales operations since investigations began, ending its relationships with many third parties. Former chief executive Tom Enders and chief operating officer Fabrice Brégier both left in 2019.
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