Picture: 123RF/ANTONIO GUILLEM
Picture: 123RF/ANTONIO GUILLEM

Paris — A former Airbus subsidiary will face trial on corruption charges in Britain in September over Saudi Arabian contracts dating back a decade, the company and the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Thursday.

The allegations against the company, GPT Special Project Management, concern contracts between January 2007 and December 2012 for work carried out for the Saudi Arabian National Guard, the SFO said in a statement.

Apart from the company, former MD Jeffrey Cook and former CFO John Mason have also been charged with corruption.

Cook also faces a charge of “misconduct in public office” over commission he earned on contracts while working for Britain's ministry of defence between September 2004 and November 2008.

A third individual, Terence Dorothy, is charged with aiding and abetting Cook in that offence, said the SFO.

Airbus, a pan-European aeroplane maker based in France, said the SFO had called the accused to appear in court.

“GPT is a UK company that operated in Saudi Arabia which was acquired by Airbus in 2007 and ceased operations in April 2020,” the aerospace giant said in a statement announcing its financial results for the first half of 2020.

“The SFO's investigation related to contractual arrangements originating before GPT's acquisition and continuing thereafter.”

The SFO opened a criminal investigation into the activities of GPT in August 2012.

GPT was a local subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) company, which later changed its name to Airbus Group.

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported in 2011 that the SFO suspected EADS of bribing Saudi officials to help it obtain a £2bn contract.

A former EADS employee claimed that colleagues used middlemen to give luxury cars, jewellery and briefcases full of cash to officials, the paper said.

Airbus said the GPT case would not affect a “deferred prosecution agreement” it struck in January with French, British and American authorities allowing it to avoid trial by paying a fine of €3.6bn.

It was being investigated for allegedly using external consultants to bribe customers to buy its civilian and military aircraft.

The SFO at the time described the deal as “the world's largest global resolution for bribery”.

A GPT hearing has been scheduled for September 14 at the Westminster magistrate's court, the SFO said.

AFP

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