Airbus hires outside monitors amid fraud investigations
The European airplane maker said on Monday the three advisers, who include former German finance minister Theo Waigel and former French European affairs minister Noelle Lenoir, will report to Chief Executive Tom Enders and the board.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched a bribery and fraud investigation last year after Airbus notified it of misstatements and omissions in its past declarations on the use of middlemen, while applying for export credits.
France followed suit with a similar investigation earlier this year and authorities in the two countries have said they will cooperate in the inquiries, the most far-reaching to target the 47-year-old company's civil activities.
Airbus, which also faces an investigation into fighter sales in Austria where it has called recent allegations unfounded, has pledged to cooperate with all ongoing investigations.
The independent panel will have access to all areas of the company and take a "hard look" at its systems and culture, Enders said in a statement.
Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, said: "Airbus has been building up and improving its compliance process, policies and organisation constantly over the past decade. A year ago we self-disclosed to the authorities misstatements and omissions that we had found.
"We have been cooperating fully with the investigations that ensued and further improving our compliance system is obviously our number one priority now.
"However, to embed irreproachable behaviours in all our business undertakings sustainably, we must take a hard look at both our systems and our culture.
"That’s why we have chosen to elect highly experienced independent experts to challenge and guide us going forward.
"Lord Gold, Noëlle Lenoir and Theo Waigel will support us in our ongoing efforts to put in place a meaningful change programme which addresses the issues that have been identified," he said. ■