VIENNA (Reuters) - Vienna prosecutors are investigating Airbus Chief Executive Thomas Enders for suspected fraud in connection with a $2 billion Eurofighter jet order by Austria more than a decade ago, the prosecutors’ office said.
Correspondence reviewed by Reuters listed Enders as one of those accused in the investigation, and a spokeswoman for the Vienna prosecutors’ office said that information was correct.
“I can confirm that,” the spokeswoman said on Wednesday when asked whether Enders was being investigated.
Contacted by Reuters, Airbus had no immediate comment on the Austrian probe.
Enders and Airbus, which was called European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Company (EADS) at the time the fighter jet order was agreed, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Enders was head of EADS’s defence division when the contract was signed. He took responsibility for combat aircraft a few months later.
Austrian and German prosecutors have been investigating for years whether officials received bribes aimed at ensuring they chose Eurofighter jets over rival offers from Saab and Lockheed Martin.
Two months ago Vienna prosecutors opened a criminal investigation that for the first time named Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium as defendants. The consortium comprises BAE Systems, Italy’s Leonardo and Airbus, which represents Germany and Spain’s industrial interests in the project.
The judicial investigation was opened in response to a complaint by Austria’s Defence Ministry. Under the country’s legal system, such a step is taken when prosecutors believe sufficient evidence is available to warrant a formal probe.
Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Francois Murphy, Tom Pfeiffer and Keith Weir