Thursday, January 20, 2022

Airbus Investors Sue for €300 Million Over Bribery Scandal

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Airbus SE is facing a 300 million euro ($340 million) lawsuit from a group of investors over allegations it failed to properly disclose a sprawling corruption scandal and subsequent settlement.

The lawsuit, filed in the Netherlands, was served against the French aircraft maker, its auditors as well as current and former executives, according to an emailed statement sent by the claimants. The group, known as the Stichting Investor Loss Compensation, represents around 130 investors.

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The case relates to a bribery scandal in which Airbus illegally swayed government officials and other decision-makers on airplane sales, boosting profit by more than $1 billion. It led to a record $4 billion settlement with French, U.S. and U.K. prosecutors in 2020.

A spokesperson for Airbus declined to comment on the case.

The group of investors say Airbus failed “to adequately disclose these events in its financial statements over the period from at least February 2014 until January 2020” and “as a result, investors in Airbus purchased their shares at an inflated price and suffered significant damage.” They also say the company failed to adequately disclose details of a potential settlement.

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In the notes to Airbus’ third quarter financial statements, the manufacturer said it had been informed in August 2021 of two separate Dutch claims. The first was filed by a special purpose vehicle said to represent numerous private shareholders and institutional investors, seeking damages. The second was from a foundation incorporated under Dutch law which threatened to file a class action before the Dutch courts. The company said it “believes it has solid ground to defend itself” against the claims.

The suit comes just as Airbus is fighting a different legal case in London. Qatar Airways is seeking $618 million in a dispute over surface and paint quality on A350 wide-body aircraft and a further $4.2 million for each day the aircraft continue to be idled.

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