Austria sues Airbus consortium over alleged Eurofighter fraud

Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon 7L-WM Austrian Air Force

Austria sued Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium on Thursday, alleging wilful deception and fraud linked to a near 2 billion euro ($2.1 billion) jet order in 2003.

The defence ministry said that following an investigation it believed Airbus and Eurofighter had misled Austria about the purchase price, deliverability and equipment of the jets.

The incurred damage could amount to 1.1 billion euros, Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told a news conference in Vienna.

Airbus said it denied the accusations vigorously. “The publication of criminal charges against a listed company by means of a press conference … is not acceptable for Airbus and can only be described as unprofessional,” said a spokesman.

Eurofighter did not reply to requests for comment.

Austrian and German prosecutors have been investigating the case for years and Munich prosecutors have said they expect to complete separate preliminary proceedings by mid-year.

Austria had initially ordered 18 Eurofighter jets but reduced the order to 15 in 2007. It then ordered a review of the purchase four years ago following bribery allegations.

The deal was controversial from the outset and allegations surfaced almost immediately that money was pocketed by politicians, civil servants and others via brokers for side deals accompanying the purchase.

Release Reuters