Malaysia regulator to probe if AirAsia broke rules in Airbus deals

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s securities regulator said on Sunday it will examine whether AirAsia Group (AIRA.KL) and unit AirAsia X (AIRX.KL) broke securities laws, after UK prosecutors accused executives of receiving bribes from Airbus for buying planes. (AIR.PA)

FILE PHOTO: A Thai Air Asia Airbus A320-200 plane prepares for take off at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/File Photo

The allegations came to light on Friday when Airbus agreed a record $4 billion settlement with France, Britain and the United States. Prosecutors said it had bribed public officials and hidden payments as part of a pattern of worldwide corruption.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Friday that between October 2013 and January 2015, Airbus’s then-parent EADS paid $50 million to sponsor a sports team that was jointly owned by two people described as AirAsia Executive 1 and Executive 2.

The SFO said the executives were rewarded for an aircraft order from Airbus, an allegation AirAsia denied late on Saturday.

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

Directors who act with the intent to cause wrongful loss to their listed firms can face jail or fines, he said.

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency has already launched a separate investigation into the allegations.

AirAsia said in its Saturday statement that it had not been involved with the SFO’s investigation of Airbus or given any opportunity to provide clarification. It denied any wrongdoing.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for fresh comment on Sunday. Airbus said it had no comment.

AirAsia, Asia’s largest budget airline group, runs an all-Airbus fleet of 274 planes.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Peter Graff

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