Airbus bribery claims: Anti-corruption watchdog wants AirAsia, SC to hold independent probes

AirAsia crew members pose for a photograph in front of an Airbus A320-200 plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang July 22, 2019. — Reuters pic
AirAsia crew members pose for a photograph in front of an Airbus A320-200 plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang July 22, 2019. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Local listed flight carriers AirAsia and AirAsia X and local regulator Securities Commission should launch independent investigations on claims that the two companies were allegedly implicated in bribery by aircraft manufacturer Airbus in the latter’s efforts to sell its aircraft, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) said today.

The anti-corruption watchdog said it was concerned over reports on the alleged bribery case while referring to news reports that Airbus has agreed to pay US$4 billion (RM16.3 billion) in settlements to the UK, US and France to avoid criminal prosecution on the company, as well as to AirAsia’s denying of any wrongdoing in the case.

“This news is disturbing because it is a homegrown brand and the government is doing its best for Malaysia to be known for her integrity and not corruption,” TI-M said in a statement.

TI-M noted that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had yesterday confirmed that it was investigating this case and is in touch with UK authorities on the matter, adding: “In all fairness to AirAsia let MACC do their own investigation and determine if there is any truth in these allegations.”

“As both AirAsia and AirAsia X are both listed companies in Malaysia it is absolutely necessary for the board of both airlines to conduct their own investigation and notify the public on what actually happened. 

“TI-Malaysia also urges the Security Commission to do an independent investigation as this matter is of public interest,” it added.

TI-Malaysia said the relevant law in the UK for Airbus would be Section 7 of the UK’s Bribery Act 2010, which covers “failure to prevent bribery” and which is aimed to set out a company’s liability for corrupt activity committed by their employees or associated persons.

The watchdog said Malaysia has a similar provision called the Corporate Liability Provision under Section 17A of the MACC Act 2018 and which will come into effect from June 2020.

“This disturbing news involving two Malaysian companies explains why Section 17A is badly needed to ensure good governance in all commercial organisations in Malaysia and the companies and the directors must be accountable to put in adequate procedures to mitigate corruption risks,” it added.

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