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Airbus Staff Arrested in U.K. Serious Fraud Office’s Saudi Probe

Airbus Group NV said the U.K. Serious Fraud Office questioned employees in connection with a probe of possible corruption at a satellites unit.

“Airbus Group understands that four former and current employees were recently interviewed -- along with MOD officials -- as part of a wide ranging SFO investigation into subsidiary GPT,” a spokesman said by e-mail, referring to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

The office said a search warrant had been executed “and a number of arrests have been made,” according to a separate release. The SFO didn’t identify Airbus by name.

Britain’s fraud investigation unit has been probing the activities of an Airbus Group unit known as GPT Special Project Management Ltd. for several years, in connection with the award of a $3.3 billion contract for communications and intranet services for the Saudi National Guard. Paradigm Services, the division that supplies satellite services in the U.K., bought the operations in 2007.

In 2012, Airbus, then known as European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., hired accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct its own, parallel investigation to the SFO probe into bribery allegations at the GPT Special Projects unit. Airbus said the study found no evidence that the unit had been guilty of making illicit payments.

The Financial Times reported earlier that Airbus is being targeted by the SFO.


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