Airbus settles bribery claims

11 February 2020|In eBriefs

Airbus has agreed to pay record fines in the UK, France and the US following an investigation into allegations that it made payments to third party consultants or intermediaries to secure contracts.  The company will pay €984 million to the UK authorities, which is the highest fine ever imposed by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office in a case of this kind.  In addition, Airbus will pay €2.1 billion in France and €526 million to the United States Department of Justice.

The investigations into the payments were initiated after Airbus drew the regulators attention to inaccurate declarations which it had made to Britain’s export credit finance agency in relation to the payments made to sales agents. The allegations against Airbus included the payment of hundreds of millions of euros in bribes via two companies which Airbus controlled. The payments allegedly boosted Airbus’s business in 16 countries. The investigation by authorities revealed a network of third party sales agents run from the company’s headquarters in France, which involved in the region of 250 people across the world.  The suspected corruption includes sales dating back a decade.

A number of senior executives have left the company following the scandal and Airbus has, pursuant to the investigations which commenced in August 2016, reviewed and overhauled its compliance, ethics and risk procedures.

The settlement means that Airbus will avoid prosecution over its use of third party consultants to secure contracts.  Airbus has reportedly restructured its business following the investigations in order to end its relationships with third party consultants.

The quantum of the fines to be paid by Airbus and the impact which this is likely to have on the company, highlight the importance of companies regularly reviewing their compliance, ethics and risk procedures as well as their arrangements with third party consultants. Should you require assistance in this regard, please contact Anthony Norton on 011-666 7560 or by email on