Corruption campaigners have questioned the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) on whether Airbus’ record €3.6bn (£3bn) fine for large scale bribery properly accounted for the wrongdoing it committed.
Last month Airbus agreed to pay the mammoth fine after a joint investigation by UK, US and French authorities found the aerospace giant had paid bribes to help secure contracts around the world.
Today, anti-corruption groups Transparency International and Spotlight on Corruption questioned whether Airbus had underpaid given the amount of profit it made from contracts that were won with the help of bribes.
In a joint letter to Serious Fraud Office (SFO) director Lisa Osofsky, the pair said: “There is a legitimate question however as to whether the calculations made in assessing the penalty and disgorgement that Airbus should be required to pay took into account the full profit that Airbus made as a result of bribes and inducements paid.”
The penalty was calculated based on a “representative sample of the markets and concerns involved,” the UK Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) settling the case said.
“We would be concerned if the SFO in the process were not ensuring that the full extent of the wrongdoing and the full profit derived from this is identified by the company,” the letter said.
“We urge the SFO to ensure that calculation of profit from which penalty and disgorgement are derived reflects the full scale of wrongdoing,” it added.
An SFO spokesperson said: “The figure has been calculated taking into account the principles in the applicable sentencing guidelines and in consultation with our partners overseas. We have reached a figure that we believe is fair, reasonable and proportionate, and the court agreed.”
The SFO said it had received the letter and would respond in due course.
Airbus agreed to pay the UK €991m, France €2.08bn and the US €525m conclude the four-year bribery probe.
DPA’s are US-style plea-deals which were introduced in 2014 and allow prosecution of a company to be suspended in exchange for a company agreeing to certain terms, such as paying a fine and agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution of individuals.
An Airbus spokesperson said they were unable to comment for legal reasons.