AirAsia’s Two Top Executives Step Aside Amid Airbus Bribery Probe
Two AirAsia chiefs will step aside for at least two months as authorities and the airline look into claims that aerospace giant Airbus paid the company $50 million to secure a plane order.
Airbus said last week it had agreed to set aside up to 3.6 billion euros to settle a corruption probe by authorities in France, Britain and the United States.
As news of the probe widened, the Malaysia-based airlines AirAsia was named in a bribery investigation by Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO), allegedly implicating two company executives.
Both men were to stand down "for a period of two months or such other period that the company may deem fit", the airline said.
The airline's board formed a committee to review the allegations, stating that Kamarudin and Fernandes would be kept as company advisors and redesignated as non-independent non-executive board members.
Identified as "key decision makers" in AirAsia and AirAsia X – the company long-haul arm – they were allegedly rewarded with the order of 180 aircraft from Airbus.
"The payments to the sports team were intended to secure or reward improper favour by them in respect of that business," the document said.
Both Kamarudin and Fernandes denied any wrongdoing and said in a Monday joint statement that they "would not harm the very companies that we spent our entire lives building up to their present global status." The airline previously said it was not involved in any way with the SFO's Airbus investigation, nor was it given an opportunity to provide any information to the fraud investigator office.
Malaysia's anti-corruption commission said on Saturday it was empowered to investigate any act of corruption committed by citizens or permanent residents anywhere outside the country.
(Published in an arrangement with PTI)