Former Airbus executive indicted for alleged foreign bribery

Airbus, another corporate corruption story that keeps on giving. This time Édouard Ullmo, a former Airbus executive was indicted by the French authorities, for “active bribery of a foreign public official” in the investigation into suspicions of Libyan financing of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007.

” Complicity in active corruption “, ” active bribery of a foreign public official “, ” criminal association “, ” laundering of active and passive corruption ” and ” active and passive corruption of a foreign public official in an organized gang “. The list of charges against the former Airbus executive is long.

According to information revealed by French newspapers Médiapart , the suspicions of the judge of instruction in this case relate to the sale of 12 Airbus planes to the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2006.

Ullmo is alleged to have ordered a transfer of 2 million euros, 3 weeks after entering this contract with the Libyan government, to an account in Singapore belonging to an intermediary, Alexandre Djouhri, also indicted in this case.

A great reminder that individuals may be held criminally liable under foreign bribery provisions in France, and for aiding and abetting a violation by another.

Since 2013, judges have been investigating accusations of Libyan financing of the victorious campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. In 2020 , the former President was charged over claims he used Libyan cash for his 2007 election campaign.

The charge for “membership in a criminal conspiracy” was added to charges issued in 2018 of “passive corruption”, “benefitting from embezzled public funds” and “illegal campaign financing”.

The former French President has always contested any financing of this type.

On the side of Airbus, a spokesperson for the group did not wish to give more details: ” Airbus is currently cooperating with the authorities within the framework of a French judicial investigation relating to Libya. As such, the company has responded positively to requests for information from the authorities.”

In January 2020, Airbus agreed to pay nearly 3.7 billion euros in fines to settle bribery charges related to a four-year investigation by French, British, and US authorities. The investigations found that for more than a decade the firm bribed officials in 16 countries through intermediaries to buy its aircraft and satellites.

The investigations revealed that from 2008 to 2015 Airbus used its Strategy and Marketing Organization (SMO) branch to funnel millions of bribes to decision-makers and influencers to obtain business deals. Countries involved included the United Arab Emirates, China, South Korea, Nepal, India, Taiwan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Japan, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Kuwait, Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, Ghana and Mexico.

In the UK, another prosecution against former Airbus executives is currently ongoing.

Jeffrey Cook, former managing director of GPT Special Project Management, a now defunct UK subsidiary of Airbus, and John Mason, former financial officer at two of GPT’s subcontractors, are on trial.

Both men, who deny the allegations, are charged with taking part in a bribery scheme between 2007 and 2012 to win lucrative UK government contracts to provide military communications to the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

 

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