The secret Kazakh deal bung worrying Airbus

The secret Kazakh deal bung worrying Airbus

A French judicial investigation into suspected corruption surrounding the sale to Kazakhstan of satellites made by aerospace giant EADS, now renamed Airbus Group, has discovered the trace of a mysterious payment of 8.8 million euros made by the group to an offshore company whose true owners are unknown, apparently even to Airbus. The investigation also centres on the sale to Kazakhstan by EADS of 45 helicopters, and the deepening scandal implicating Airbus in what has become dubbed “Kazakhgate” is joined by separate probes in France and Britain into the group’s alleged corrupt practices in past sales of its civil aircraft.

French anti-corruption investigators questioned Airbus (AIR.PA) Chief Executive Tom Enders and three other company executives as witnesses in an investigation centered on the sale of satellites to Kazakhstan in 2010, according to media reports on Thursday.

Enders was interviewed in early October by anti-corruption investigators in Nanterre, close to Paris, as was Chairman Denis Ranque, Mediapart, France Inter and Der Spiegel reported.

Authorities are probing an alleged suspect payment linked to the satellite deal, Mediapart reported, adding that Enders and the other executives were not alleged to have any role in it.

“We have no comment to make other than that we are fully co-operating with authorities,” a spokesman for Airbus said.

Enders is grappling with scrutiny over Airbus’s sales practices after the company uncovered inaccuracies in its filings to U.S. regulators over arms technology sales. That came on top of existing bribery investigations in France and Britain over the use of middlemen in jetliner sales.

France and Germany each hold 11 percent of Airbus.

France’s finance minister said recently that Enders had the confidence of Airbus’s board, while the German government has also rebuffed speculation about Enders’s future.

Based on reporting by Mediapart and Reuters