Reports that Airbus is set to reach a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) over its corrupt use of middlemen to sell jets have been dismissed by industry observers.
Some newspapers had reported that the aircraft giant may be set for a £1 billion-plus fine as part of a DPA before Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Director David Green leaves his post next April.
But commentators are arguing that Airbus faces years of investigation by French and UK authorities, due to the lengthy and complex nature of the allegations.
With no official word coming from either the SFO or Airbus regarding the progress of the investigation, it is pointless spending too much time speculating on the likely outcome.
In its favour, Airbus did report the irregularities in payments made to sales agents. This should boost its chances of a DPA.
But if Airbus is to have any genuine chance of obtaining a DPA, it will have to cooperate fully with the authorities and be seen to make genuine, worthwhile changes to its working practices to ensure such wrongdoing is not repeated.
Aziz Rahman, founder of Rahman Ravelli, said: “The problems facing Airbus are high-profile proof that you can’t be too big to fail when it comes to compliance. Companies of all sizes and types have to realise that they have to have proper preventative procedures in place to ensure wrongdoing is not being carried out on their behalf.
“Our experience leads us to believe that no company that fails to take the appropriate steps can expect to either escape problems or investigation. And if they do suspect any wrongdoing, they have to seek immediate advice and assistance.
“If there has been a problem, making sure you do everything possible to investigate it, cooperate with the authorities and then put right the wrongs can be the difference between a damaging criminal prosecution and a less harmful outcome, such as a deferred prosecution agreement.’’
Read our article: OBTAINING A DPA