Airbus says British corruption probe extended to France


Airbus said on Thursday that a British corruption probe into the aerospace giant had now been extended to France.

On August 7, Britain's Serious Fraud Office said it had opened a criminal probe into alleged fraud, bribery and corruption "concerning third-party consultants."

"Airbus has now been informed that the French authorities... had also opened a preliminary investigation into the same subject and that the two authorities will act in coordination," Airbus said in a statement on Thursday.

"Airbus will cooperate fully with both authorities," it added.

Airbus last year said it had informed the British authorities of irregularities in April.

The same month the UK Export Finance agency decided to suspend export credits to the firm, a move followed by France and Germany.

On February 16, Austria filed a lawsuit against Airbus over a two-billion-euro ($2.15-billion) 2003 order for Eurofighters, saying it had been a victim of "fraudulent deception."

It is claiming 1.1 billion euros in damages.

In 2012, Austrian and German authorities launched a probe into Airbus, previously called EADS, to investigate whether officials had been paid millions of euros through advisory firms to secure the contract.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a major prestige product for the European defence industry, with 475 aircraft delivered so far to Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, as well as to Austria and Saudi Arabia.

The four founding nations in the consortium -- Germany, Spain, Britain and Italy -? all use the planes in their own air forces. Other contracts have been signed with Oman and Kuwait.

Austria was the first country outside the consortium to sign up, ordering in 2003 18 of the aircraft, which then dropped to 15 because of budgetary constraints.

In late January, Airbus agreed to pay tens of millions of euros in additional taxes in Germany over a 90-million-euro payment linked to the Austrian Eurofighter contract.