LONDON (REUTERS) - The UK Serious Fraud Office announced it was investigating Canadian industrial group Bombardier over suspected bribery in airplane sales to Garuda Indonesia, widening a global anti-corruption drive in aerospace.
The plane and train maker is the latest aerospace group to face scrutiny over the use of middlemen after authorities struck a record bribery settlement with Europe's Airbus in January and a 2017 plea deal with British engine maker Rolls-Royce
Both settlements involved sales of planes or engines to Garuda and airlines in other countries.
"The SFO is investigating Bombardier Inc over suspected bribery and corruption in relation to contracts and/or orders from Garuda Indonesia," the agency said on Thursday (Nov 5).
"As this is a live investigation, the SFO can provide no further comment," it added.
In Montreal, Bombardier said it had been informed about the SFO probe several weeks ago and would cooperate. It has appointed external lawyers to run an internal review.
At the centre of the case, Bombardier said, are five procurement processes involving different manufacturers, including the 2011-2012 acquisition and lease of Bombardier CRJ1000 regional aircraft by Garuda.
Bombardier, which has undergone several changes of leadership after costly industrial bets in the past decade, said the SFO was investigating the same transactions that led to a former CEO of Garuda Indonesia being convicted in May.
It sold six CRJ1000 regional jets to Garuda in 2012 and simultaneously leased a number of similar jets. Garuda now has 18 of the jets in its fleet, according to its website.
Irfan Setiaputra, Garuda's current CEO, said in a statement on Friday the airline would cooperate with relevant authorities. Indonesia's state-owned enterprises minister Erick Thohir also said the government would cooperate.
An Indonesian court in May handed Emirsyah Satar, Garuda chief executive from 2005 to 2014, an eight-year jail sentence for bribery and money-laundering related to procurement of planes and engines from Airbus and Rolls-Royce.
In 2017, Rolls-Royce agreed to pay more than US$800 million (S$1.08 billion) to defer charges after an investigation by the SFO and US Justice Department into alleged bribery of officials in six countries.
Airbus in February agreed to pay a record US$4 billion in fines after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors in Britain, France and United States over alleged bribery and corruption stretching back at least 15 years.