PARIS — Airbus has filed a legal reply denying Austria’s allegations of fraud on a 2003 order for the Eurofighter Typhoon, accusing the defense minister of political motivation, the aircraft company said Monday in a statement.
That contentious deal for the Austrian Air Force was worth €1.96 billion (U.S. $2.34 billion) and has soured relations between Vienna and Airbus.
Airbus Defence and Space, in its legal submission to the Vienna public prosecutor, denied all allegations made by Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskoli, the company said.
“Airbus’ initial criticism is about the highly questionable manner which the Defence Minister chose to file the criminal ‘statement of (alleged) facts,’ and the prejudicial information policy which he pursued in this context,” the company said. “These actions constitute violations of economic and fundamental rights.”
Austria’s allegations and claims for damages eight years after the delivery of the last Eurofighter jet “appears highly abstruse and politically motivated.”
The company said the Eurofighters were delivered as specified in the Austrian contract, it was “commonly known” the cost for offset deals was covered in the lump-sum price and the government had not specifically asked for information on the cost of offsets during the tender.
One example of the offset deals honored by Airbus involved FACC, an Austrian-based supplier of composite parts, and the signing of a contract worth more than €500 million for the planned Airbus A320 “airspace” cabin, the company said.
That project is a remodelling of the airliner’s interior to give more room for passengers and their luggage in overhead bins.
The Austrian defense ministry said in February it had lodged a criminal complaint accusing Airbus and Eurofighter of being “willingly and fraudulently” deceiving on the “true purchase price as well as to the true ability to deliver and true specifications of the Eurofighter.”
Part of Austria’s claim on the order for the 15 Eurofighters is an alleged failure of Airbus and Eurofighter to reveal that the purchase price of €1.96 billion included almost 10 percent, or €183.4 million, for the cost of offsets. Austria had asked for offsets, which allocate work to local firms, to be billed separately.
The Eurofighter is built by BAE Systems of Britain, Italy’s Leonardo, and the German and Spanish Airbus units.