Malaysia to investigate AirAsia bribery charges

Malaysia to investigate AirAsia bribery charges
Source: Bloomberg

Malaysia’s securities regulator has announced that it will launch a probe into two Malaysian budget airlines, AirAsia and its subsidiary, AirAsia X, on whether they had broken securities laws.

The announcement came after prosecutors in the United Kingdom accused airline executives from AirAsia and AirAsia X of bribery charges for aircraft purchase agreements made with Airbus.

“The Securities Commission Malaysia will examine the allegations and review all available evidence to determine if there is any breach of securities laws,” Malaysia’s securities chairman Syed Zaid Albar said in a statement.

He added that directors who had acted with the intent to cause losses to their firms would face jail time or fines.

The allegations, made by British daily, The Telegraph, are based on legal documents that indicate bribery.

The bribes were made by Airbus with the intent of securing contracts through the use of corrupt middlemen to sell its planes worldwide.

The Telegraph reports that AirAsia and AirAsia X ordered 180 aircrafts from Airbus, orders that were made via “improper payments”.

The bribery charges were revealed on January 31 after Airbus agreed to pay a total of nearly US$4 billion in a settlement deal to France, Britain and the United States.

In the settlement, Airbus agreed to pay almost US$1.11 billion to the UK, US$1.11 billion to France, and US$587.31 million to the United States. The settlement came after Airbus admitted to “endemic” levels of bribery in its international business dealings.

Corruption in Airbus’ international dealings

Outside of Malaysia, Airbus is accused in the UK of using bribes in deals made in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Ghana between 2011 and 2015. Meanwhile, France claims Airbus paid bribes in 16 countries.

The company is alleged to have bribed public officials and made hidden payments in what has been described as a pattern of “endemic” corruption throughout various countries.

UK authorities found bribery charges involving sports team sponsorship

The Telegraph reported that Airbus paid US$50 million and offered an additional US$55 million in an effort to sponsor a sports team jointly owned by two individuals who are reported to be AirAsia Executive 1 and Executive 2 in the documents.

“You owe me four million already and I’m owed 16 million in total. This should have been paid ages ago when I bought the first 60 aircraft. I want my money,” one of the executives was found to have written in an email to an Airbus official.

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency is actively involved in the investigation and has launched a separate probe into the international case.