- Tony Fernandes (CEO, AirAsia) and Kamarudin Meranun (Chairman) have to step down amid ongoing Airbus bribery charges.
For at least two months, two AirAsia bosses CEO & Chairman must step aside as authorities and the airline looks into allegations that aerospace giant Airbus paid the company USD 50 million to win a plane order.
Last week, Airbus said it had decided to set aside up to € 3.6 billion to settle a corruption investigation by authorities in France, Britain and the US.
When news from the probe spread, the Malaysian-based AirAsia was identified by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in a bribery inquiry, reportedly involving two company executives.
In a late Monday filing on the stock market in Malaysia, the budget carrier said its chief executive Tony Fernandes and executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun will immediately leave their positions.
All men had to stand “for two months or so long that the organization will deem fit,” said the airline.
The board of the airline formed a committee to investigate the claims, announcing that Kamarudin and Fernandes would be retained as company consultants and re-designated as non-independent members of the board of directors.
A court document on the SFO website said that EADS France SAS— later renamed Airbus Group SAS— paid USD 50 million as sponsorship to a sports team owned by two unidentified AirAsia executives.
Identified as “key decision-makers” in AirAsia and AirAsia X— the long-haul arm of the group— they were officially rewarded with an order of 180 Airbus aircraft.
“The payments to the sports team were intended to secure or reward improper favor by them in respect of that business,” the document said.
“The payments made to the sports team were intended to secure or reward their unsuitable favor with regard to that business,” the document said.
Both Kamarudin and Fernandes denied any wrongdoing and said in a joint statement on Monday that they “would not harm the very companies that we spent our whole life building up to their present global status.” Previously, the airline said it was not involved in any way with the SFO’s Airbus investigation, nor was it given the opportunity to provide any information to the office of the fraud investigator.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission said it was empowered on Saturday to investigate any act of corruption perpetrated by citizens or permanent residents outside the country.
“I can confirm that the MACC is in contact with the UK authorities in the case of the Airbus-AirAsia revelations and is already investigating the matter,” Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya said at the time.