VIENNA --- The Vienna Office of Public Prosecutions today confirmed on request that it has initiated investigation proceedings against Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH based on suspected fraud. Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH are listed as defendants in the investigation proceedings of the Vienna Office of Public Prosecutions.
Hans Peter Doskozil, Federal Minister of Defence and Sports: “I was informed today that, based on our criminal complaint filed on February 16, 2017, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH are both listed as defendants. The criminal procedure thus enters a new phase.”
“The Vienna Office of Public Prosecutions thereby follows our reasonable suspicion. The Vienna Office of Public Prosecutions and SOKO (special commission) Hermes will now initiate investigation proceedings against both Airbus companies. We feel vindicated with regard to our approach”, said the Minister.
On Thursday, February 16, 2017 the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports (FMDS) had filed a criminal complaint with the Vienna Office of Public Prosecutions against the two Airbus companies based on suspected willful and fraudulent deception.
The Republic of Austria has joined the proceedings as a private party and has claimed damages of up to EUR 1.1 billion for the period until December 31, 2016. In addition, there are damages due to the additional operating costs of the more expensive Eurofighter, which cannot yet be quantified and which have been secured through a filing for declaratory judgement.
The excellent work performed by SOKO Hermes at the Federal Ministry of the Interior has been an important basis for the strong state of evidence of the criminal complaint.
Asked for its reaction to the above statement, a spokesman for Airbus e-mailed the following statement:
"As the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence did not discuss the matter with Airbus prior to the announcement or afterwards, and did not share any documents backing up the allegations, the company is lacking substantial information.
We confirm, however, that the allegations appear to be contrived, and we deny them vigorously.
Different authorities have already been carrying out investigations into the matter for well over ten years, investigative committees were formed and Airbus has also provided a report from a major law firm over 600 pages long following its own in-depth investigation.
We are continuing our policy of actively supporting the authorities in investigating concrete suspicions."
Asked specifically about the allegations of fraud made by Austrian MoD, the spokesman said:
"We cannot see for the time being any foundation for the allegations of bad faith and fraud."
Click here for the Ministry’s related Feb 16 statement, with a link to the Task Force report that led to the initiation of proceedings.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Calls seeking comment from the Austrian Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems were not returned.)
-- Feb 24, 2017: Added reaction by Airbus at 16:00 GMT.