PARIS – U.S., British and French authorities approved an unprecedented agreement Friday with Airbus that will see the planemaker pay up to $4 billion to end years of damaging corruption investigations.
All three countries called it the largest global foreign bribery resolution to date, and celebrated their cooperation. Airbus too welcomed the deal, eager to turn the page on an embarrassing, costly saga that damaged its reputation and led to management and policy changes.
French national financial prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert said Airbus had "acknowledged acts of corruption" in negotiating the deal.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. alleged Airbus ran a years-long corruption campaign across the world, using bribes and falsely reporting information for more than five years to gain valuable licenses to export U.S. military technology.
British and French authorities were investigating alleged fraud and bribery related to Airbus’ use of outside consultants to sell planes. U.S. authorities were also investigating Airbus'compliance with American arms trafficking regulations.
Bohnert said that former executives, including ex-CEO Tom Enders, could still face eventual trial in a separate but related French investigation into wrongdoing by individuals. Friday's ruling only concerned Airbus as a company.
Airbus said earlier in the week that it had put aside 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to cover the costs of the fine.
The French court said France will get 2.1 billion euros out of that sum as part of a special new plea deal arrangement introduced into French law only recently.