Airbus to pay $4 billion to settle corruption probe: French prosecutor

FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – European planemaker Airbus will pay 3.592 billion euros ($3.98 billion) to settle corruption probes by U.S., British and French authorities into contract dealings, France’s financial prosecutor said on Friday.

The simultaneous settlements in Britain, France and the United States mean the European planemaker has avoided prosecution, lifting a legal cloud that has hung over the Europe’s largest aerospace group for years.

There was no immediate word on whether individuals could face charges.

Airbus has reached an agreement to settle corruption charges with France’s financial prosecutor for 2.08 billion euros, the prosecutor said. Announcements from British and U.S. authorities on their settlements were expected later on Friday.

The deal, believed by anti-corruption experts to be the largest ever in a bribery case, ends an almost four-year crisis that led to a sweeping management overhaul and delayed plans to redeploy the plane giant’s cash surplus.

While the size of the penalty is large, criminal charges would have risked the company being barred from public contracts in the United States and European Union – a massive setback for one of Europe’s top defense and space firms.

The European planemaker has been investigated by French and British authorities for suspected corruption over jet sales dating back more than a decade. It has also faced U.S. investigations over suspected violations of export controls.

Reporting by Laurence Frost and Simon Carraud; Writing by Matthieu Protard and Alex Richardson

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