EADS launches external review of corruption rules

PARIS Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:48pm GMT

Visitors look at aircraft models at the EADS booth during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Selchow near Schoenefeld south of Berlin, September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

Visitors look at aircraft models at the EADS booth during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Selchow near Schoenefeld south of Berlin, September 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

PARIS (Reuters) - European aerospace and defence group EADS EAD.PA has launched an external review of its anti-corruption rules as it faces ongoing investigations in Austria, Britain and Germany.

EADS said on Thursday it had hired ETHIC Intelligence, a certification agency it said specialised in "anti-corruption compliance programmes", pledging to make the findings public.

"This compliance readiness test will start immediately and should bring first results by the end of February," EADS said, adding: "The group fully cooperates with the respective authorities on on-going compliance investigations."

Public prosecutors in Austria and Germany said this month they had searched several EADS sites in Germany in an investigation into whether bribes were made as part of a sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria.

Investigations have been ongoing since 2011 and involve suspicions of bribery, money-laundering and fraud, they said.

"I take these allegations very seriously, and EADS is fully cooperating with the public prosecutors on this matter," EADS chief executive Tom Enders said on Thursday.

"However, before having the full picture of what seems to be a very complex matter, we should not rush into conclusions."

Britain's Serious Fraud Office opened a criminal investigation in August into allegations EADS bribed Saudi Arabian officials to win a $3.3 billion contract for its GPT unit to provide communications and intranet services for the Saudi National Guard.

EADS said on Thursday it had not reacted quickly enough when the allegations - made public in August - were first raised internally, adding it aimed to speed up its response in any future case.

Following a whistleblower's claims, internal audits in 2010 did not reveal any illegal payments in the GPT case, EADS said. A subsequent review between November 2011 and March 2012 by PricewaterhouseCoopers also found no evidence of improper payments, EADS said.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Jon Hemming)