AirAsia Group faces probe over alleged corruption

An AirAsia plane

Low-cost airline operator AirAsia Group Berhad is facing a regulatory probe over an alleged bribery from aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

The Securities Commission Malaysia said on Sunday that it will investigate AirAsia Group and AirAsia X Bhd following news linked to the two firms that Airbus made a $4-billion settlement with the United States, France, and Britain allegedly for bribing public officials and making hidden payments.

According to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Britain on Friday, Airbus’ former parent firm EADS paid $50 million from October 2013 to January 2015 to sponsor a sports team that was said to be jointly owned by two AirAsia executives.

The officials were also allegedly rewarded for 180 aircraft orders from Airbus.

“The Securities Commission Malaysia will examine the allegations and review all available evidence to determine if there is any breach of securities laws,” said the regulator’s chairman, Syed Zaid Albar.

“As both are listed on Bursa Malaysia, the Securities Commission Malaysia will examine the allegations and review all available evidence to determine if there is any breach of securities laws,” he added.

If proven, he said directors involved in anything “with the intention of causing wrongful loss to the PLC (publicly-listed company) or its related corporation commits an offense which is punishable with imprisonment and fine,” as provided for under the Section 317A of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007.

AirAsia denied the allegations late on Saturday and said that it had not been involved in the probed issue on Airbus.

AirAsia had said that each aircraft purchase agreement was not made by any single individual decision, but instead arrived at through “careful evaluation, deliberation and the collective decision of the board members after taking into account technical specifications, aircraft flight performance and operating economics”.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s anti-graft agency launched a separate investigation to look into the matter.

The organization said it was in coordination with the United Kingdom authorities to probe into the matter.

AirAsia Group is a multi-national budget carrier established in 1993 and is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its subsidiaries are AirAsia, AirAsia India, Philippines AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia and Thai AirAsia.

PHOTO COURTESY: FLICKR