This section provides all of the information that we can disclose about the investigations and our efforts to improve compliance. We are not able to comment on details of these investigations themselves. 

The agreements approved today with the French, U.K, and U.S authorities represent a very important milestone for us, allowing Airbus to move forward and further grow in a sustainable and responsible way. The lessons learned enable Airbus to position itself as the trusted and reliable partner we want to be.

 

Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus

 

Read the press release

Sustainability
Airbus reaches agreements with French, U.K. and U.S. authorities
Airbus has reached final agreements with the French Parquet National Financier (PNF), the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) resolving the authorities' investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption, as well as with the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and the DoJ to resolve their investigations into inaccurate and misleading filings made with the DoS pursuant to the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
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Airbus has taken considerable steps over the past years to design and implement an effective Ethics and Compliance (E&C) programme and culture across Airbus. In the French DPA (CJIP), the Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA) notes that Airbus has worked on designing a compliance programme that is “up to the very highest standards of practice,” and that this has been “achieved."

There were various steps and milestones that helped us meet the authorities’ expectations:

From 2015 to 2017, as compliance concerns were being identified, Airbus implemented key personnel and structural changes as part of its efforts to remediate the historic conduct and to develop an improved Ethics and Compliance programme. Examples of key changes during this time period were:

  • Hiring of a new Airbus General Counsel, with that role being elevated to the Executive Committee, and merging the legal and compliance functions into one department;
  • Shortly after, hiring of a new Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer;
  • Creation of a dedicated Ethics and Compliance Committee of the Board to oversee the investigations and implementation of the company’s compliance programme and organisation. Composed entirely of independent directors;
  • Significant reduction in the use of sales intermediaries/business partners across the Group, coupled with the implementation of new policies and procedures to govern the engagement of any new ones (business development support initiative directive);
  • Launch of an enterprise-wide anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment with the highest risk areas considered first;
  • Issuance of new key anti-bribery policies and procedures, including the anti-corruption policy and gifts & hospitality directive;
  • Deployment of classroom training focussing on employees exposed to the risks presented by the use of business partners across all divisions worldwide; and
  • Appointment of an independent compliance review panel of three internationally renowned compliance experts on how to further improve Airbus’ compliance processes, policies, organisation and culture.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, Airbus continued to implement significant adjustments to its Ethics and Compliance programme with the objective of completing the design and initial implementation of a compliance programme that aligns with and exceeds best practices. Examples of steps taken by Airbus to further enhance the programme are: 

  • Re-drafting and re-launch of the company’s Code of Conduct, which is the overarching guide for Airbus’ expectations in respect of ethics and compliant behaviour;
  • Issuance of new procedures regarding how Airbus handles other key third-party relationships, in particular supplier relationships, to ensure they undergo risk-based due diligence and that any red flags are investigated appropriately;
  • Enhancing the various avenues through which employees and relevant third parties can escalate compliance allegations, in particular through expansion of the OpenLine “hotline” service;
  • Implementing steps to address the various recommendations of the independent compliance review panel;
  • Implementing a suite of “second level” controls to assess the effectiveness of the Ethics and Compliance programme so that weaknesses and gaps can be identified and addressed; and
  • Implementing improved export control policies and procedures, and conducting an ambitious compliance training programme.

Signing of the agreements signalled the start of a new phase of compliance work, under the oversight of the Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA), when it comes to bribery and corruption, and the Special Compliance Officer (SCO), when it comes to export control.

In 2020, examples of activities performed were:

  • Implementation of virtual classrooms to maintain “face-to-face” compliance training for employees, not only in response to the challenges of COVID-19, but also to foster company-wide integration and standardisation;
  • Adoption of a full suite of new policies and procedures with respect to export control;
  • Issuance of new business ethical guidelines with respect to competitive intelligence gathering and resisting solicitation and extortion; and
  • Continuing a focus on efforts to encourage a "Speak Up" environment amongst employees.

Are you planning any further changes?

An effective Ethics & Compliance programme is one that, by definition, continuously adapts to changes and improves over time. Going forward, Airbus will continue to assess its risks and monitor and test the implementation of mitigation measures at all levels: corporate level, divisions, regions and local entities.

If misconduct reveals a gap in compliance policies, procedures or tools, Airbus undertakes revisions to its Ethics & Compliance programme commensurate with the wrongdoing and in light of lessons learned. While compliance at Airbus will therefore always be a work in progress, Airbus is committed to this endeavour, as the company aims to make its Ethics & Compliance programme sustainable over time.

Compliance initiatives

The timeline below provides a snapshot of the numerous developments in compliance over the past several years.

2015   

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Appointment of a new General Counsel and new Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer;
  • Merger of the Legal and Compliance teams to work under one banner (Legal & Compliance);
  • Update of the compliance policy dealing with sales intermediaries/business partners (business development support initiative directive); and
  • Launch of a significant “business partner” awareness campaign, with training delivered to more than 1,500 affected employees over a 6-month period;

2016   

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Launch of an enterprise-wide anti-bribery and corruption risk assessment;
  • Issuance of a new Anti-Corruption Policy, to provide employees with a single and unique guide on anti-bribery and corruption-related matters;
  • Issuance of a second update to the business development support initiative directive, with enhanced compliance controls related to the payment and monitoring of third parties;
  • Issuance of a new gifts and hospitality directive, containing monetary thresholds above which line management and compliance approval are required prior to exchange; and
  • Issuance of a new anti-money laundering (AML) directive, which provides for standardised due diligence on customers and the appointment of a new AML Officer.

2017

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Issuance of a lobbyists & special advisors directive, which provides for standardised due diligence on lobbyists, political and economic advisors and similar third parties;
  • Issuance of a new sponsorship & donations directive, to provide for standardised due diligence and a set of triggers for requiring compliance review and approval;
  • Appointment of an independent compliance review panel of three internationally renowned compliance experts on how to further improve Airbus’ compliance processes, policies, organisation and culture; and
  • Start of delivery of targeted anti-corruption training to sales intermediaries / business partners and other third parties.

2018

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Issuance of a new international cooperation & offsets method, to provide a due diligence framework for the vetting of third parties used engaged in the context of international cooperation and offset activities;
  • Issuance of a new human resources method on how to manage applications, recommendations and referrals for recruitment at Airbus, in particular to avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest with respect to clients and former government officials;
  • Issuance of a Compliance Allegations and Investigations Method, to ensure that investigations into whistle-blowing alerts and other compliance allegations are conducted in a consistent and professional manner in accordance with company standards and relevant laws;
  • Issuance of a new JV-M&A Directive, which defines the requirements for the prevention of corruption related to mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and similar transactions; and
  • Delivery of the first report by the Independent Compliance Review panel, with recommendations designed to strengthen Airbus’ compliance programme and culture.

2019

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Launch of a new Code of Conduct, to serve as the overarching guide in respect of ethics and compliant behaviour;
  • Re-launch of the Airbus network of E&C representatives, or part-time “ambassadors,” to act as vectors for cultural change and a strong E&C presence locally;
  • Extension of the geographical coverage of the OpenLine, the company’s secure and confidential "Speak Up" channel, opening to third parties and inclusion of a new anonymity option;
  • Issuance of a new supplier compliance method, which provides for standardised due diligence on first-tier suppliers (other than business partners, lobbyists, etc.)
  • Issuance of a new conflicts of interest directive, requiring employees faced with a conflict of interest to proactively declare it to the compliance team; and
  • Delivery of the second report by the independent compliance review panel.

2020

A series of actions are undertaken, including:

  • Issuance of new business ethics policies and guidance on competitive intelligence gathering, as well as resisting solicitation & extortion attempts;
  • Publication of a suite of 10 new policies related to export control compliance;
  • Roll-out of 7 brand new e-learning modules related to anti-bribery and export control;
  • Delivery of the third and final report by the independent compliance review panel;
  • Start of reviews by the Agence Francaise Anticorruption (in respect of anti-bribery and corruption) and the Special Compliance Officer (in respect of export control). 

Airbus has been as transparent as possible within the parameters of the ongoing investigation by providing regular updates to stakeholders. The links below lead to press releases and financial statements that cover compliance topics:

 

Airbus has also ensured that all employees, suppliers and customers are aware of its rigorous compliance requirements with the following key documents below that must be adhered to:

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