“Kazakhgate” – Airbus appears before a judge as an assisted witness
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“Kazakhgate” – Airbus appears before a judge as an assisted witness

European aeronautical company Airbus became an assisted witness on Friday. It attended a court session with an instruction judge regarding “Kazakhgate”, the suspected corruption case. This information was confirmed by several sources close to the case. Assisted witness is an intermediary status between witness and defendant. 

“Airbus is an assisted witness and intends to fully cooperate with the French courts. One of its representatives was questioned”, an Airbus spokesman told AFP. The spokesman didn’t mention the current investigation.  

A source said Airbus was helping the “Kazakhgate” investigation as an assisted witness. The investigation is looking into suspected corruption with regards to trade contracts between Kazakhstan and France under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency. 

The company said it is assisting the investigation “at the judge’s request, as Airbus has already started internal inquiries”. 

The Kazakhgate investigation into “corruption of foreign public agents” began in 2013. The judges are trying to determine if the contracts awarded illegal commissions to intermediaries. 

In October 2010, Paris and Astana announced a contract for 45 EC 145 helicopters, which were to be supplied by Eurocopter (a branch of EADS). Eurocopter later became Airbus Helicopters. Other contracts also included a satellite centre supplied by Astrium (formerly EADS, now Airbus) and 295 Alstom locomotives. The total sum of the finalised contracts was 2 billion dollars. 

Airbus is now the subject of several European anti-corruption investigations, notably a Franco-British investigation linked to a law about the sale of civilian planes. 

Because of all the legal issues, Airbus has launched an internal investigation and has said it will fully cooperate with the courts. 

Maria Novak
The Brussels Times