November 19, 2012
Credit: Credit: BAE Systems
German prosecutors believe European aerospace group EADS paid at least 50 million euros ($63.5 million) in bribes to Austrian officials to secure a $2 billion deal for Eurofighter jets, according to a document seen by Reuters.
Authorities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland raided EADS sites earlier this month in connection with investigations into suspected bribery, money-laundering and fraud related to the 2003 deal for 15 jets.
The deal depended on EADS guaranteeing offset deals meant to generate twice the value of the deal for the Austrian economy through suppliers, related services or education projects.
Allegations surfaced almost immediately that many of the supposed offset deals did not bring in any business for Austria but that the money ended up in the pockets of politicians, civil servants and other individuals.
An internal document prepared by German prosecutors that was the basis for this month’s raids said at least 71.5 million euros ($90.8 million) was paid by EADS managers to a company called Vector Aerospace, a business with a London postal box address that was set up to arrange the side deals.
From there, a minimum of 50 million euros was paid to five brokers between 2005 and 2008, according to the document, which was shown to Reuters by a source close to the investigation.
“No advisory or procurement services to achieve the counter-trade volume actually resulted through these so-called brokers,” prosecutors wrote.
“In fact, it concerned bribes that had been agreed to influence decision-makers (civil servants) in the granting of the contract to supply fighter jets to Austria.”
Vector Aerospace has since been liquidated.