Global spread of DPA regimes: What they mean for multinationals
Daniel Igra, Investigations Counsel, Nokia Corporation, UK
On 31 January 2020, aerospace giant Airbus SE entered into coordinated agreements with the French, UK and US authorities in the largest corruption enforcement action in history. The company was hit with eye-watering penalties – in total, just shy of €3.6 billion – to pay for the sins of systemic corruption over many years. The fines were divided between the authorities: over €2 billion to France’s Parquet National Financier (“PNF”), €991 million to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”), and €525 million to the US Department of Justice (“DoJ”) and Department of State. Airbus had employed the age-old model of using consultants to bribe customers to buy its products. In one case, the company paid $2 million to the wife of an executive of state-owned Sri Lankan Airlines in return for consultancy services on a contract for 14 planes. In its application to UK Export Finance to support the deal, Airbus referred to the consultant first as “he” and then “she”, and later claimed it was a “coincidence” the consultant shared the same name as the executive’s wife. In another case, the company made or promised payments worth €5 million to a consultant who happened to be the close relative of a high-ranking Ghanaian government official. The consultant was assisted in his work by two UK television actors with zero aviation experience.
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