EADS sites searched in probe into Austrian Eurofighter buy

FRANKFURT Wed Nov 7, 2012 10:13am EST

FRANKFURT Nov 7 (Reuters) - Authorities have searched several EADS sites in Germany in an investigation into whether bribes were made as part of a sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria, public prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The investigations have been ongoing since 2011 and involve suspicions of bribery, money-laundering and fraud, public prosecutors in Austria and Munich said, confirming a report in Germany's Spiegel magazine.

The authorities in Vienna said searches had also been made of properties in Austria and Switzerland.

The accusations date back to 2002 to when the then Austrian government ordered 18 Eurofighter jets for around 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion).

After a change of government, the defence ministry in 2007 said it wished to cancel the order after a general overseeing the deal was relieved from his duties over suspicious payments.

The Austrian order was then revised to 15 jets.

EADS, the maker of the Eurofighter, confirmed it was the subject of an investigation. "We are fully cooperating with the authorities, but cannot comment further," a spokesman said on Wednesday.

BAE Systems is also a member of the four-nation Eurofighter consortium.

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