UK opens corruption probe into Airbus jet sales

French and German agencies have also halted export credits to the plane maker

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Britain's Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal investigation into suspected fraud, bribery and corruption in connection with commercial plane sales by Airbus, parent company Airbus Group said on Sunday.

The move comes three months after a UK government agency suspended the issue of export credits to Airbus, citing discrepancies in declarations by the plane maker on the use of third-party intermediaries during jet sale negotiations.

In a statement on Sunday, Airbus Group said it had been notified that the SFO had opened a probe, and that the company was continuing to cooperate with the UK fraud police.

The agency, UK Export Finance, had said it was referring the discrepancies to the SFO, which would decide whether to launch a criminal investigation.

"Airbus Group has been informed by the SFO that it has opened a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in the civil aviation business of Airbus Group relating to irregularities concerning third party consultants," the company said in a statement.

"Airbus Group continues to cooperate with the SFO."

French and German agencies have also halted export credits to the plane maker, which support deliveries to airlines with limited access to commercial funds.

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