People celebrate near an Airbus A330neo aircraft after its maiden flight event in Colomiers near Toulouse, France. [Photo/Agencies]
European aircraft producer Airbus has agreed to pay penalties of 3.6 billion euros ($3.96 billion) in a move that it hopes will bring to an end a probe into corruption around the awarding of contracts that has been hanging over the multinational for the past four years.
The company was the subject of investigations in the United States, France and the United Kingdom, and on Tuesday it agreed terms with prosecutors in the UK for what is known as a deferred prosecution agreement, allowing it to avoid formal charges.
"Airbus confirms that it has reached agreement in principle with the French Parquet National Financier, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US authorities," the company, based in the French city of Toulouse, said in a statement.
"These agreements are made in the context of investigations into allegations of bribery and corruption as well as compliance with the US international traffic in arms regulations. They remain subject to approval by French and UK courts and US court and regulator."
In 2017, under a similar agreement, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce Holding was required to pay $874 million in penalties to investigators in the UK, the US and Brazil.
The Airbus case originally came to light when inaccuracies were found in documents relating to the sale of military equipment which included parts made in the US, leading to a long-running inquiry involving the handing over of millions of documents and significant restructure and new procedures being introduced by the company to get to this point.
Crucially, the settlement of the case by paying a heavy fine would mean that Airbus will not face a potential criminal prosecution over the matter, which could have prevented it from bidding for future public contracts in both the US and the European Union.
Shares in the company rose on the news that the deal had been agreed, and the conclusion of the saga will be a relief for the company's Chief Executive Guillaume Faury, who took over the top job last April from Tom Enders, whose time in the role was largely dominated by the scandal.