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Fraud at Airbus

US, European courts weigh $4 billion settlement.

AP File

PARIS (AP) — Courts in Britain, France and the U.S. are considering Friday whether to accept a settlement that could cost Airbus up to $4 billion and end years of corruption investigations.

If approved, the deal would be among the biggest-ever settlements in both France and Britain in a company corruption case.

British and French authorities are investigating alleged fraud and bribery related to Airbus’ use of outside consultants to sell planes. U.S. authorities are also investigating Airbus' compliance with American arms trafficking regulations.

While costly, the settlement would allow Airbus executives to avoid trial, and allow the company to turn the page on a period that damaged its reputation and led to management and policy changes.

The European plane maker said earlier this week it had reached preliminary settlement deals with authorities in all three countries investigating alleged fraud and bribery. Airbus put aside 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to cover the costs.

The deals need to be approved by courts in all three countries, which were expected Friday.

French prosecutors said Friday that France would get 2.1 billion euros out of that sum. Britain would get the equivalent of 983 million euros and the U.S. 530 million euros. They said investigators had gathered 30 million documents and conducted searches or interviews in 20 countries, including of current and former executives and employees.

The French financial prosecutor's office and British Serious Fraud Office started investigating in 2016, and the U.S. Department of Justice joined in 2018.

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