Airbus US shareholders file fraud suit over disclosures, graft probes

AIRBUS SE was sued today by shareholders who accused the European planemaker of securities fraud for misleading them about its ability to avoid and manage corruption accusations over nearly four-and-a-half years.

The proposed class action was filed by shareholder Andrew Kornecki in the federal court in Newark, New Jersey, and seeks unspecified damages for Airbus’ alleged violations of US securities laws.

CEO Guillaume Faury and his predecessor, Tom Enders, as well as CFO Dominik Asam and his predecessor, Harald Wilhelm, were also named as defendants.

Spokesmen for Airbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment on behalf of all defendants.

Airbus agreed in January to a US$4 bil (RM16.75 bil) settlement of corruption charges by US, UK and French authorities stemming from more than one dozen countries, and which a US judge called a “pervasive and pernicious bribery scheme”.

In July, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office announced corruption charges against Airbus’ GPT Special Project Management unit and three people over a contract to provide communications services for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Today’s complaint accused Airbus of concealing shortfalls in its compliance controls, exposing it to greater risk of probes on whether bribery and corruption helped boost revenue and profit.

It said this resulted in various regulatory actions and settlements that caused Airbus’ stock price to fall.

The complaint seeks damages for holders of Airbus’ American depository receipts from Feb 24, 2016 to July 30, 2020.

It is common in the United States for shareholders to sue companies over investment losses they attribute to false, misleading or inadequate disclosures.

The case is Kornecki v Airbus SE et al, US District Court, District of New Jersey, No., 20-10084. – Aug 7, 2020, Reuters

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