Austria sues Airbus over alleged Eurofighter corruption

Feb 18, 2017, 00:36
Austria sues Airbus over alleged Eurofighter corruption

Austria's defense ministry plans to sue Airbus over suspected corruption and bribery linked to a controversial $2.1 billion sale of Eurofighter jets nearly 15 years ago.

In a report published yesterday, Austrian officials laid out a series of allegations against Airbus and its partners, accusing them of knowing at the outset that it would be impossible for them to deliver all the planes on time.

But shortly after the contract was signed, allegations started to circulate that politicians and others involved in the deal were receiving kickbacks.

"The report that I have received clearly states: Without the fraudulent and deceitful actions of Airbus Defense and Space GmbH and the Eurofighter Jadgflugzeug GmbH, the Republic of Austria would not have decided in favor of the Eurofighter in 2003", Austria's Defense and Sports Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said in a press release.

Its defence ministry said that following an investigation it believed Austria had been misled over the purchase price.

Airbus said in a statement: "Currently, we are unable to comment on the media reports as we just learned about these intended actions in Austria through the media ourselves. This is what we did today", Doskozil said. It ordered a review of the purchase four years ago following bribery allegations.

Airbus builds the Eurofighter in collaboration with BAE systems and Leonardo, meaning the lawsuit is filed against corporations from four different European Union member states: Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Airbus won a tender by the Eurofighter consortium to supply 18 fighter planes to Austria in 2003. "We can however confirm that in recent years we have supported the activities by the legal authorities, for instance through [our] own investigations".

It could sue the two companies for 1.1bn euros, it said.

While offset deals - which involve work being given to local companies - were part of the agreement, their cost should have been reported separately, it said in a report.

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