Prof. Michael Koehler discusses the Airbus deal with French, British and U.S. authorities following a three-year probe into allegations of bribery and corruption over jetliner sales.

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Prof. Michael Koehler discusses the Airbus deal with French, British and U.S. authorities following a three-year probe into allegations of bribery and corruption over jetliner sales.

Prof. Michael Koehler discusses the Airbus deal with French, British and U.S. authorities following a three-year probe into allegations of bribery and corruption over jetliner sales.

February 06, 2020, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Tim Hepher

(Reuters) - Airbus faces a record $4 billion fine and lower 2019 profits after unveiling a preliminary deal with French, British and U.S. authorities following a crippling three-year probe into allegations of bribery and corruption over jetliner sales.

The deal, believed by anti-corruption experts to be the largest ever in a bribery case, ends an almost four-year crisis that led to a sweeping management overhaul and delayed plans to redeploy the plane giant’s cash surplus.

If approved by courts, the deal is expected to allow Airbus to avoid criminal charges that risked banning the company from public contracts in the United States and European Union - a massive setback for one of Europe’s top defense and space firms.

The European planemaker has been investigated by French and British authorities for suspected corruption over jet sales dating back over a decade. It has also faced U.S. investigations over suspected violations of export controls.

Announcing the tentative agreement, Airbus - which dominates the commercial jet market alongside U.S. rival Boeing - said it would take a provision of 3.6 billion euros ($3.96 billion) in its 2019 earnings if the deal won approval in court hearings in the United States, Britain and France on Jan 31.

“To my knowledge, an approximate $4 billion global settlement amount would be the largest global bribery settlement amount in history,” said bribery law expert Mike Koehler, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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