European planemaker Airbus Group warns its staff in a letter to be prepared for budget constraint as the five-year investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption in the €2bn sale of Eurofighter jets are nearing “conclusion”.
Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, wrote to the aircraft maker’s 130,000 staff on October 6 to warn of the potential for “significant penalties” arising from corruption investigations under way in the UK, France, Germany and Austria, Financial Times reports.
He urged staff to ignore media speculation and attempts by “individuals with vested interests to discredit top management by spreading false allegations” as the investigations continue.
“Our investigation is about to come to an end. We aim to complete the proceeding soon,” a spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors told Reuters on Thursday. However, she declined to comment on a report by the German weekly Der Spiegel that alleged charges would be filed soon.
The Austrian government sued Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium in February for allegedly deliberately misleading Vienna about the purchase price, delivery times and technical equipment of the 18 jets in 2003 contract. However, Airbus has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The Austrian defence ministry is seeking some €1.1bn in damages, alleging that it was forced to overpay for the jets despite a renegotiation of the contract in 2007 as a result of fraudulent action on the part of Airbus.