Airbus shareholders in U.S. file fraud lawsuit over disclosures, corruption probes

(Reuters) - Airbus SE was sued on Thursday by shareholders who accused the European planemaker of securities fraud for misleading them about its ability to avoid and manage corruption accusations over nearly 4-1/2 years.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Airbus is pictured at the entrance of the Airbus facility in Bouguenais, near Nantes, France, July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

The proposed class action was filed by shareholder Andrew Kornecki in the federal court in Newark, New Jersey, and seeks unspecified damages for Airbus’ alleged violations of U.S. securities laws.

Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury and his predecessor, Tom Enders, as well as Chief Financial Officer Dominik Asam and his predecessor, Harald Wilhelm, were also named as defendants.

Spokesmen for Airbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment on behalf of all defendants.

Airbus agreed in January to a $4 billion settlement of corruption charges by U.S., U.K. and French authorities stemming from more than one dozen countries, and which a U.S. judge called a “pervasive and pernicious bribery scheme.”

In July, the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office announced corruption charges against Airbus’ GPT Special Project Management unit and three people over a contract to provide communications services for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Thursday’s complaint accused Airbus of concealing shortfalls in its compliance controls, exposing it to greater risk of probes on whether bribery and corruption helped boost revenue and profit.

It said this resulted in various regulatory actions and settlements that caused Airbus’ stock price to fall.

The complaint seeks damages for holders of Airbus’ American depository receipts from Feb. 24, 2016 to July 30, 2020.

It is common in the United States for shareholders to sue companies over investment losses they attribute to false, misleading or inadequate disclosures.

The case is Kornecki v Airbus SE et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No., 20-10084.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler