French authorities join the UK's Serious Fraud Office in Airbus fraud and corruption investigation

Rebecca Smith
The UK's SFO opened an investigation back in August
The UK's SFO opened an investigation back in August (Source: Getty)

French authorities have opened their own investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption at Airbus, joining Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which launched an inquiry in August.

The Parquet National Financier and the SFO will "act in coordination" going forward as they look into the allegations in the civil aviation business of Airbus Group relating to irregularities concerning third party consultants.

Read more: Serious Fraud Office opens criminal investigation into Airbus

In a statement, the aerospace giant said: "Airbus will cooperate fully with both authorities."

The SFO had started its inquiry back in August into Airbus' use of third party consultants to win international aircraft orders, after the firm had said it failed to alert credit authorities about the agents on certain deals.

Airbus brought it to authorities' attention in April after an internal probe, noting "misstatements and omissions" involving outside contractors in some applications.

Export credit agencies in the UK, Germany and France suspended financing of Airbus deals after the revelations, though the company's sales boss told Reuters some export credits could resume on a case-by-case basis this year.

The use of third party agents has been in the spotlight in recent months, after engineering giant Rolls-Royce agreed to pay a £671m fine to regulators in the UK, US and Brazil after it admitted bribery and corruption charges.

Read more: Rolls-Royce actually crushed 1,000 diamonds to paint this Ghost

The investigations stemmed from claims of possible bribery and corruption in the company's overseas markets, China and Indonesia in particular.

Firms sometimes use intermediaries with local connections to help get a foothold in new markets, which can otherwise be a long and drawn-out process.

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