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French plane maker’s fraudulent deals with SriLankan bared

1 February 2020 02:06 pm - 11     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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-$2m paid to the wife of a Sri Lankan Airlines executive through a Brunei shell company

French plane maker Airbus has been accused for paying bribes through agents around the world (including Sri Lanka) to stack the decks in its favour and win contracts around the globe, media reports said.

A judges in London on Friday approved a record €3.6bn (£3bn, $3.9bn) settlement to be paid by French plane maker Airbus (AIR.PA) over allegations of bribery.

The court also approved a deferred prosecution agreement struck between the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and Airbus.

The deal will see Airbus pay €991m (£832m, $1bn) to UK authorities as part of a global settlement worth €3.6bn. The settlement ends probes in the UK, France, and United States and is “the world’s largest global resolution for bribery”, the SFO said.

Airbus has been under investigation by the SFO for four years over allegations external consultants used by the company paid bribes in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Ghana between 2011 and 2015. The investigation was launched after Airbus discovered inconsistencies in disclosures made about external consultants.

Outlining detailed findings, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said Airbus had hired the wife of a Sri Lankan Airlines executive as its intermediary and misled Britain’s UKEF export credit agency over her name and gender, while paying $2 million to her company.

Meanwhile, the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) in a statement said that as aircraft manufacturer Airbus reached a record 3.6 Billion Euro settlement with US, UK and French authorities following a 4 year investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption, Transparency International Sri Lanka wishes to highlight the importance of paying compensation to the countries who are the victims of corrupt deals involving Airbus.

The statement of facts issued on 31 January 2020 as part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached between Airbus and the prosecuting authorities, indicates that Airbus had agreed to pay out a sum of 16.84 Million US dollars to a company registered in Brunei under the wife of an executive at SriLankan Airlines. Furthermore, the statement reads that Airbus had paid out a sum of 2 Million US dollars of the agreed amount to the company. The statement of facts is available here.

TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “It is important to recall that the fallout from this deal is widely reported to have cost in excess of 17 billion rupees (USD 116mn [2015]) in cancellation penalties.  Given that the evidence now shows that corruption was involved in the procurement process, it is imperative that action is taken both internationally and locally to ensure that Airbus and its agents are held accountable for losses inflicted on Sri Lanka.”

Obeyesekere added, “The settlement reached between Airbus and prosecuting authorities in the US, UK and France should by no means be interpreted as a clean slate. The actions of Airbus and its agents as far as Sri Lanka is concerned is emblematic of corrupt and exploitative business practices which prey on the vulnerable.”

TISL had previously highlighted this issue in a letter addressed to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Large-Scale Fraud & Malpractice in SriLankan Airlines. The letter dated August 2018 was accompanied by a report compiled by Corruption Watch UK, detailing potentially corrupt deals involving Airbus and several other airlines and a letter co-signed by TISL along with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from France, Indonesia, Tunisia, the UK and the US. This letter dated June 2018 was addressed to the Serious Frauds Office in the UK, the Parquet National Financier in France, the US Department of Justice and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Key among the recommendations made by the CSOs was that countries where it is proven that Airbus or its agents have paid bribes, are fully compensated for harm caused. Whilst court approval was granted in the UK today for the Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Airbus, Sri Lankan authorities must take this opportunity to hold to account those responsible, both domestic and foreign, for the significant losses inflicted on the Sri Lankan public.

Download Full Statement: Statement of Facts listing offences in Regina V. Airbus SE

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  Comments - 11

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  • Save Ul Saturday, 01 February 2020 12:30 PM

    It is very easy to find these people now as the cops and robbers are all one team. Next phase we should also look at the current CEO who sold the family silver under Emirate regime and showed good books.

    Anmanpan Saturday, 01 February 2020 12:40 PM

    Another bomb about to explode on Rajapaksa laps? I hope an international investigation is conducted and all exposed.

    John frazer Saturday, 01 February 2020 12:43 PM

    All bribers were paid via 3rd party agents it took a long time and recourses to find out the bottom of it. Bottom line Airbus unethical practise all these countries has to pay huge penalties for cancellation

    Sarath Saturday, 01 February 2020 12:43 PM

    The report showed that between 2011-2015 SriLankan under MR stooges was involved in corruption. Will GR fulfil the promise on zero tolerance to corruption, and prosecute them?

    Saman wijesinghe Saturday, 01 February 2020 12:49 PM

    Mahinda last night did you sleep well

    Nadi Karunaratne Saturday, 01 February 2020 01:30 PM

    Will we the Sri Lankan public be permitted to know the names of the guilty at Sri Lankan Airlines? Will we ever have the $116mn restored to us - money that could have been used to improve our schools, hospitals and transport? Of course we won't.

    S.Siva Saturday, 01 February 2020 01:43 PM

    This is nothing new. Any big deal needs oiling.Remember AIRBUS is a new kid on the block among plane makers without "santhosam" no one would have even spoken to them . One should however appreciate the fact that they have a very good product.Thats why they are admitting without any hesitation of their acts . The UK France settlement was never even contested by AIRBUS.

    ravin Saturday, 01 February 2020 01:48 PM

    These are well known secrets. Any major deals in the world have business promotion budget/deals. US $2 million is nothing . But we have much more bigger deals here.

    Dealman Saturday, 01 February 2020 02:33 PM

    Ask DEALdasa , He will tell the DEALmakers .

    Dee Saturday, 01 February 2020 03:19 PM

    Ahhhh. Shall we get A350's again?

    warusawa Friday, 07 February 2020 09:10 PM

    New SL government will take more bribe to close the previous bribe case and then they will acquit airbus of any wrong doing. Then will arrest a Ceylon Takaran Bus (CTB) employee and accuse him of bribery and will imprison him. Justice -Sri Lankan style!


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