Purchase of aircraft nothing to do with sponsorship. Photo: Bernama

Airbus Scandal

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia claimed today that it was ever reached out to even once by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) during the four-year investigation regarding the Airbus scandal for any explanation or clarification. 

In a statement, AirAsia chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said it was a clear violation of the fundamental legal principle of fairness and access to justice.

“We categorically deny all allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct on our part as executives and directors of AirAsia,” it said. 

It noted that Caterham F1, the company alleged to have been sponsored improperly by Airbus, was at the relevant time a Formula 1 Racing team that had gone around the globe promoting amongst others AirAsia, AirAsia X, GE and Airbus.

It added that throughout the period Kamarudin and Fernandes were shareholders in Caterham, the company made no profits and was eventually disposed of for GBP1 in 2014, as from start to finish it was a branding exercise and not a venture to make profits.

“So as to facilitate a full and independent inquiry by AirAsia, we are relinquishing our executive roles with immediate effect for an initial period of two months which may be extended at the discretion of the AirAsia board as they deem fit based on the prevailing circumstances then.

“At the request of the board of AirAsia, we have agreed to continue to assist AirAsia in an advisory capacity as and when required,” it added.

Kamarudin and Fernandes also said they welcome any investigation by the authorities, saying that is the only way they would receive the fairness and access to justice denied them by the SFO process to date.

On Jan 31, 2020, Airbus SE and the SFO entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement.

In return for a suspension of prosecution by the SFO, Airbus has agreed to pay a significant fine and costs to the SFO and also agreed to a statement of facts that appears to implicate executives of AirAsia. – Bernama