Airbus Tightens Fraud Controls

Photo: Regis Duvignau

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Airbus has established a new independent compliance review panel (ICRP) to ensure “irreproachable” behavior, following allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in its civil aviation business.

The move follows an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and France’s Parquet National Financier (PNF), after Airbus self-disclosed misstatements and omissions found a year ago.

Revelations started emerging in April 2016, when the UK Export Finance (UKEF), Britain’s export credit agency (ECA), placed a temporary hold on all guarantees and credit export support of Airbus products. Coface, the French ECA, and Euler Hermes, the German ECA, followed within days. The probe is focused on alleged misuse of third-party agents and European export credit by Airbus.

“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 behaviors in all our business undertakings sustainably, we must take a hard look at both our systems and our culture,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said.

As part of this compliance ramp-up, Airbus has appointed three external consultants—from France, Germany and the UK—to “challenge and guide” company practices.

The three independent experts comprise strategic litigation specialist Lord Gold (who worked with Rolls-Royce following bribery allegations), former French minister of European affairs Noëlle Lenoir (who specializes in competition law, public business law and economic regulations) and former German finance minister Theodor Waigel (who was previously an outside compliance monitor for Siemens).

“All well-versed in compliance monitoring of large corporations, they will have access to all levels of the company and will report to the Airbus CEO and board on how to further improve Airbus’ compliance processes, policies, organization and culture,” Airbus said.