Compliance is at the heart of everything Airbus does today – we are putting significant resources and effort into supporting the coordinated criminal investigations by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and France’s Parquet National Financier (PNF).
This microsite provides all the information we can disclose at this time around the investigations and our efforts to improve compliance. We are not able to comment on details of the investigations themselves while they are ongoing.
What we are doing
Airbus is committed to implementing the most effective global standards to combat bribery and corruption in its industry.
We prohibit all forms of bribery and corruption and have a dedicated compliance programme and organisation under the leadership of the Airbus General Counsel, who has a seat on the Executive Committee and reports to the Airbus CEO.
We also have appointed an Independent Compliance Review Panel composed of eminent external consultants to help us further improve our processes.
Statement from the Board of Directors - October 2017
Chairman of the Board
Questions and answers
The authorities are carrying out coordinated investigations into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption within our civil aviation business, relating to our use of third party consultants. The investigations were initiated following self-reporting by Airbus.
In 2014, as a precautionary measure, Airbus froze payments to its third party consultants engaged in sales support activities, in order to put them through an enhanced compliance due diligence and screening process. During this process, Airbus discovered misstatements and omissions relating to information provided in certain applications for export credit financing for Airbus customers.
As a result, Airbus made the decision to “self-report” to the relevant authorities.
Airbus is working closely and cooperating fully with the authorities to investigate the situation. As part of this effort, Airbus has engaged legal, investigative, and forensic accounting expertise of the highest calibre to undertake a comprehensive review. Together, they are using some of the most advanced software tools available to analyse a massive amount of electronic and hard copy documents as part of the investigation.
The company will not unfreeze payments to any third party consultant until it has gone through the enhanced due diligence process described above. As a result, certain consultants and other third parties have initiated commercial litigation and arbitration against Airbus alleging breach of contract and seeking relief.
We cannot exclude that our comprehensive review and enhancements to our controls and practices lead to additional commercial disputes or other civil law consequences in the future.
Airbus continues to monitor all its activities with regard to ethics and compliance. We will continue to work closely with the authorities during the investigations and will seek to improve internal compliance processes, and if new allegations come to light they will be dealt with appropriately and consistently.
Airbus will take appropriate action against those found to have engaged in any wrongdoing or misconduct as the results of the investigation become available.
Airbus continues to revise and implement improved anti-corruption compliance policies and procedures, including those with respect to its engagement of consultants and other third parties. The lessons learned as part of the SFO and the PNF investigations will be fed back into our compliance programme in order to strengthen it for the future. We also have appointed an Independent Compliance Review Panel composed of eminent external consultants to help us further improve our compliance processes, policies, organisation and culture.
John Harrison, Airbus General Counsel, and head of the Legal & Compliance team is leading the upgrade of Airbus’ compliance programme and supporting the authorities with the investigations. He has a seat on the Executive Committee and reports to the Airbus CEO.
No. The Eurofighter investigation is not related to the coordinated investigations by the SFO and the PNF. It is a separate historical issue and we cannot see any foundation in particular for the allegations of bad faith and fraud made by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence concerning it.
On 9 February 2018, the Munich Public Prosecutor (Staatsanwaltschaft München I) has terminated its investigation which had been ongoing since 2012 and did not confirm the allegations of bribery (read more)
Timeline of compliance enforcement
The evolution of Airbus’ compliance programme has been a long and complex process. It not only covers various businesses across multiple jurisdictions with individual governance and compliance structures, but has also evolved to adapt to organisational changes that the company has implemented over the past years.
Initially set up as EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), Airbus has managed to reduce organisational complexity over time – from the elimination of the initial co-leadership approach in 2007 through a significant change in the ownership structure in 2013 to the reorganisation and renaming of the Group to 'Airbus' in 2014.
Concerning the compliance programme, changes also started from 2007 onwards with the introduction of an enhanced anti-corruption policy as the company began to unify under a more cohesive corporate governance structure.
The company works continuously towards ensuring that employees act in a compliant manner. In the past three years alone, Airbus has conducted more than 160,000 awareness trainings covering – amongst others – the topics of anti-corruption, fraud, antitrust, export compliance, and confidential information.
The timeline below provides a snapshot of the numerous developments in compliance from 2007 to the present day.
Airbus vision for Ethics & Compliance
Over the years, Airbus has earned the trust of passengers, customers, operators and other stakeholders through the quality and safety of our products. To fully serve our communities and thrive in the future, our commitment to business integrity must be just as robust – this means conducting our business ethically and based on Airbus Values, and in compliance with all laws and regulations.
Join me in focusing on what really matters: rejecting bribery and corruption, preserving our integrity and embracing our values for the purpose of serving the best interests of our great company Airbus.
Guillaume Faury – Airbus CEO
The compliance enforcers
The following experienced senior executives and their teams are working to ensure compliance remains front and centre of all business that Airbus does. They are also working closely with the authorities to support its investigations.
John Harrison is member of the Executive Committee. In his role as General Counsel he has consolidated the responsibilities of Corporate Secretary, General Counsel and Ethics & Compliance. Harrison was Group General Counsel of Technip S.A. in Paris and joined Airbus Group in June 2015.
Sylvie Kandé de Beaupuy joined Airbus in November 2015 as Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, reporting to the Airbus General Counsel and brings to Airbus a strong background in all legal, compliance, regulatory and export control matters combined with international business experiences.
Karl Hennessee is head of Litigation, Investigations & Regulatory Affairs, reporting to the Airbus General Counsel. Hennessee worked for Airbus from 2001 to 2013, moved to Halliburton Company in Houston as Vice President Public Law and Technology before joining back Airbus in May 2016.
The Independent Compliance Review Panel
Airbus appointed an Independent Compliance Review Panel (ICRP) composed of eminent external consultants.
All well-versed in compliance monitoring of large corporations, they have access to all levels of the company and are reporting to the Airbus CEO and Board on how to further improve Airbus’ compliance processes, policies, organisation and culture.
Lord Gold was a solicitor at Herbert Smith for 37 years, serving as its senior partner between 2005 and 2010. In March 2011 he set up David Gold & Associates high level strategic litigation advisors. One of the UK's most senior litigators, he has extensive experience working with corporations, governments and regulators around the world. Lord Gold reviewed Rolls-Royce’s global anti-corruption compliance policies following bribery allegations in various countries. He is a Conservative life peer in the House of Lords.
Noëlle Lenoir is a specialist in competition law, public business law and economic regulations – both at the national level and at the European level – at Kramer Levin. She served as French Minister of European Affairs from 2002 to 2004, was the youngest person ever to have served on the French Constitutional Court. She has been a member of the Conseil d’Etat since 1984.
Dr. Theodor Waigel served as Federal Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of Chancellor Helmut Kohl from 1989 to 1998, and as Chairman of the CSU from 1989 to 1999. He was a member of the Bundestag from 1972 to 2002. An eminent lawyer since 1967, he has acted in an advisory capacity for corporations and government on matters of compensation, governance and compliance since 1999. From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Waigel served as an outside compliance monitor for Siemens.
Compliance disclosure, references and key documents