Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Colombia raids Avianca offices in ticketing malpractices probe, possible link to Airbus bribery scandal

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Colombia’s attorney general’s office searched the offices of embattled Avianca on Wednesday as part of an investigation into alleged irregular ticketing practices.

Officials originally told journalists the search was connected to an investigation into an alleged bribery scheme involving European manufacturer Airbus, before later clarifying that though the search may provide information for the Airbus probe it is based on the ticketing case.

Airbus has reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in Britain, France and the United States and agreed to pay a record $4 billion in fines over bribery and corruption stretching back at least 15 years.

Avianca said last week it had hired a law firm to investigate its relationship with Airbus and determine if it had been involved in any wrongdoing.

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Computer equipment at Avianca’s offices thought to contain “detailed information” prompted Wednesday’s search as part of an effort to “obtain probatory material,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“Since not all the requested equipment was handed over at the headquarters of the company, the attorney general’s office ordered a search warrant,” added the statement, which was accompanied by a photograph of officials at the airline’s office.

In a statement later on Wednesday, Avianca said the search was related to the ticketing investigation.

It informed both Colombian and United States authorities about the ticketing case in August, the airline’s statement said, adding it would continue to fully collaborate with authorities.

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Airbus was not immediately available for comment.

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