VIENNA, March 2 Austria's Greens and the
far-right Freedom Party (FPO) have agreed to set up a
parliamentary commission of inquiry into whether Airbus
billed the government for alleged bribes linked to a $2 billion
order for fighter jets.
The parties had been in talks on setting up a commission,
and a short statement issued by the Greens on Thursday evening
said lawmaker Peter Pilz would hold a joint news conference with
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache on Friday at 10:30 a.m. (0930
GMT) to provide details on "the agreement and the road map".
Spokespeople for the Greens and the FPO declined to
elaborate on the statement, saying details would only be
announced at the news conference.
Austrian prosecutors last week launched a formal criminal
investigation against Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium over
alleged fraud, widening the potential fallout from the 1.96
billion euro ($2.06 billion) jet order more than a decade ago.
Austria is also suing Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium,
alleging wilful deception and fraud linked to the order in 2003.
The Defence Ministry said last month that after an
investigation it believed Airbus and Eurofighter had misled
Austria about the purchase price, deliverability and equipment
of the jets, adding that the damages incurred could amount to
1.1 billion euros. Airbus denies the allegations.
A parliamentary inquiry could uncover new details about how
the order was negotiated. Strache, the FPO leader, has also said
he wants to find out why another parliamentary inquiry, in 2007,
The support of 46 members of the lower house, or roughly a
quarter of the chamber, is required to set up a parliamentary
commission of inquiry, according to the parliament's website.
Together the FPO and Greens control 62 seats.
($1 = 0.9517 euros)
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Mark Potter)