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Indonesia considers legal action over Airbus corruption case settlement share


Indonesia considers legal action against the UK over its exclusion from a €991 million Airbus bribery settlement, despite providing key evidence. Airbus settled a global corruption probe in 2020, and Indonesia seeks renegotiation to secure a share. Bombardier also faces investigation, with Indonesia seeking inclusion in future settlements.

Indonesia is exploring the possibility of legal action against the United Kingdom in a bid to secure a portion of the €991 million bribery settlement related to the Airbus corruption case. This development comes amid Jakarta’s frustration over its exclusion from the British share of a €3.6 billion settlement, despite its cooperation with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) during the investigation.

Commenting on the bribery investigation, the Director of the SFO, Lisa Osofsky, said at the time, “A resolution of this scope would not have been possible without the commitment, determination, and hard work of SFO staff and our French and American colleagues. We are also indebted to law-enforcement partners around the world for the support they provided in securing this record-breaking resolution.”

Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, found itself embroiled in a far-reaching corruption investigation, facing allegations of using intermediaries to bribe public officials across several countries between 2004 and 2016. These illicit activities were aimed at facilitating the purchase of Airbus aircraft.

In 2020, Airbus decided to settle the global corruption investigation with authorities in France, the UK, and the United States, marking the end of a four-year probe. As part of this settlement, Airbus committed to paying a total of €3.6 billion in fines.

The misconduct covered by the UK Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) spanned five jurisdictions: Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Ghana, occurring between 2011 and 2015.

Talking to the Financial Times, Yasonna Laoly, Indonesia’s minister for law and human rights, said, “We are extremely disappointed that our request has not received appropriate attention. We will file our claim to the English court with the purpose to annul the DPA…and renegotiate and conclude a DPA that includes the rights of the victim state.”

Indonesia has been seeking assurances from the UK for some time now to secure a portion of the financial settlement tied to the Airbus corruption case. Asserting that it provided “crucial evidence” during the Airbus corruption investigation, Indonesia has now signaled its intent to take legal action against the UK, aiming to nullify the settlement and initiate renegotiations that would grant Jakarta a share of the fine.

It’s worth noting that in 2020, an Indonesian court sentenced Emirsyah Satar, the former CEO of Garuda Indonesia, for bribery and money laundering associated with the procurement of aircraft and engines from Airbus and Rolls-Royce. This occurred just two months after Airbus had reached settlements with authorities in the UK, the US, and France.

In a related development, Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier is also facing an investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office concerning its dealings with Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia. The probe revolves around suspected bribery in CRJ-1000 purchase and lease agreements dating back to 2012.

Given Indonesia’s role in assisting with the investigation into Bombardier, its exclusion from the Airbus deal has prompted Jakarta to seek a commitment from the UK for a share in any future settlements involving Bombardier.

These legal actions underscore the growing importance of international cooperation in combating corruption and enforcing anti-bribery measures within the aviation industry. The outcome of Indonesia’s efforts to secure a share of these settlements will be closely watched, as it may set a precedent for future cases involving global corporations and their dealings with foreign governments.

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Student at the Department of Business Administration of the Athens University of Economics and Business.