Airbus could reach a settlement with British, French and US authorities in a long-running fraud investigation as soon as this year, sources with knowledge of the case told City A.M.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) opened an investigation into Airbus’ use of third party consultants to win international aircraft orders in August 2016.
French investigator the Parquet National Financier launched a probe in March 2017, which it said would run “in coordination” with the British investigation.
In December Airbus shares fell after reports the US Department of Justice had opened its own investigation into corruption allegations.
A source said: “There is movement in that case, they have stepped it up.”
The source said they expected a settlement “by the end of the year”.
They said: “We are beginning to see a pattern which we will end up with some form of global settlement before too long, then we could see individuals charged subsequently.”
In 2017 France introduced a new law, Sapin II, which includes a procedure – similar to the UK’s own deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) – which allows corporations to settle cases without a criminal conviction.
In 2017 Rolls Royce and Tesco agreed DPA’s with the SFO, paying £497m and £129m to settle investigations into bribery and fraud, and false accounting respectively.
An Airbus spokesperson said: “We continue cooperating in full with the authorities who have the lead on the case and the proceedings. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”
If the SFO does manage to settle the Airbus case this year it will be a much-needed win for the agency which suffered a blow in December when the trial of the Tesco executives charged in connection to its 2014 accounting scandal collapsed.
Earlier this year the SFO’s new director Lisa Osofsky decided to stop its investigation into individual executives in the Rolls Royce case and to drop a probe into pharmaceutical company Glaxosmithkline.
The SFO declined to comment.