Eurofighter corruption case resurfaces: Austrian report

Austrian prosecutors suspect aircraft manufacturer EADS of having made up to 100 million euros available to lobbyists to sell its Eurofighter jets in Vienna, media reported on Friday. Format magazine quoted a legal document in its online edition, stoking the scandal surrounding a two-billion-euro Eurofighter deal concluded in 2003 which has been plagued by corruption allegations ever since. "We are working on the assumption that a criminal organisation was created within the EADS consortium to extract funds out of business partners by means of false contracts to make them available for corruption operations," a prosecutor wrote in the document quoted by the weekly. The affair, which has already sparked several court proceedings and the setting up of a parliamentary inquiry committee, was reignited by the arrest of a financier in Italy. Gianfranco Laude told investigators in April that EADS assigned 84 million euros to a screen company, Vector Aerospace, with a view to bribes in Austria tied to the Eurofighter contract. According to the prosecutor's report, EADS made about 100 million euros available to lobbyists tasked with setting up a complex network of screen companies. "The construction was aimed at bribing businesses and civil servants," a court document said, ordering a wiretap on three lobbyists between June and July. Format said investigators gleaned the information during the operation. (c) 2011 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Sep 2, 2011