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EADS inquiry into Saudi bribe claims

EADS has launched an external, group-wide investigation into its anti-corruption practices as the European aerospace company admitted for the first time that it had failed to react quickly enough to a whistleblower's claim that its UK unit paid bribes to secure contracts in Saudi Arabia.

A month after EADS abandoned its quest to merge with Britain's BAE Systems – and facing ongoing investigations over corruption in the UK, Germany and Austria – the aerospace giant said it had hired the Ethic Intelligence agency to conduct a thorough audit of anti-corruption compliance systems across the group.

The review comes after the Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into its UK subsidiary, GPT Special Projects, in August. This was prompted by whistleblower allegations that GPT paid bribes running to millions of pounds into a Cayman Islands bank account, as well as gifts of new cars, to secure and retain £2bn of contracts to provide communications and intranet services for the Saudi National Guard. EADS said it was fully co-operating with the SFO and said internal audits and a review by PwC had found no evidence of improper payments.