FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) Chief Executive Tom Enders sees no reason to resign over ongoing UK and French corruption investigations, but would be ready to do so if needed, he told a German newspaper
“You can be assured: Once I am no longer part of the solution, and I hope I would realize myself when that is, I will draw the consequences (and step down). But for now, I don’t think we’re at this point,” Enders told Handelsblatt, according to a pre-released version of its Monday edition.
Airbus’ board expressed full confidence in Enders on Thursday, but two people familiar with the matter said it only did so after commissioning its own study of top management.
The investigations by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and later its French counterpart were triggered by Airbus in 2016 when it reported itself to UK authorities after uncovering flawed documents over the use of intermediaries in airplane sales.
It also faces an Austrian probe over a 2003 fighter sale.
Enders and legal counsel John Harrison have come under fire from within Airbus and in the French media for opening the floodgates to widening investigations and for overseeing what several insiders have called a witch-hunt.
Enders reiterated on Friday the group could face significant fines as the result of the UK and French probes.
Airbus is conducting its own internal investigation in the hope of being offered a deal by UK prosecutors as a reward for co-operation and sharing results with investigators.
Enders told Handelsblatt he had no knowledge of illicit funds at Airbus used to bribe potential customers.
“I do not have any (slush funds) and don’t know of any,” he said, adding that unless the contrary was proven he would assume that no such funds exist at Airbus.
Enders earlier this year announced his intention to renew his three-year mandate in 2019.
Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Mark Potter