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Corruption probe at Airbus

December 3, 2014

Airbus, Europe's largest defense contractor, is under investigation for bribery in Munich. The charges stem from border fortification contracts in Saudi Arabia and Romania.

Airbus logo
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The defense arm of Airbus is under investigation for bribery surrounding lucrative border security contracts in Romania and Saudi Arabia, prosecutors in Munich said Wednesday.

The case revolves around several employees of Airbus Defence and Space, formerly EADS, who allegedly bribed officials to secure contracts worth 3 billion euros ($3.69 billion).

A company spokesman confirmed the charges, saying the number of people involved was in the "low single digits." Airbus is Europe's largest defense contractor.

The spokesman also said that employees' offices and apartments had been raided in October, and that Airbus was cooperating with authorities. The aerospace giant had apparently been informed in advance of the charges and had already carried out an internal investigation before the raids took place.

Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung daily first reported on the investigation, which is being led by the public prosecutor's office in Munich.

According to the report, prosecutors caught wind of suspicious money transfers between Airbus and Saudi Arabia "worth millions" while probing other bribery allegations stemming from the sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria for more than 1.5 billion euros.

The alleged bribes to Saudi Arabia are believed to have helped the defense contractor secure a contract to fortify the kingdom's 9,000-kilometer (5,592-mile) border.

Nearly every major German defense contractor is currently facing some investigation into corruption allegations, Süddeutsche noted.

cjc/ng (dpa, AFP)