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Airbus rejects Austria fraud allegations as 'politically motivated'

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Airbus rejects Austria fraud allegations as 'politically motivated'
The first Eurofighter bought by Austria lands 12 July 2007, at Zeltweg air base. Photo: AFP
09:00 CEST+02:00
Aerospace giant Airbus on Monday formally rejected fraud allegations levelled by Austria over a two-billion-euro ($2.3 billion) deal for Eurofighter jets, calling the accusations "factitious".

The company said in a statement it had filed a legal submission to Austrian prosecutors denying "all allegations made by the Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil".

Doskozil's office sued Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium in February for allegedly deliberately misleading Vienna about the purchase price, delivery times and technical equipment of the 18 jets.

Austria is seeking up to €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) in damages.

"These accusations are factitious and legally groundless," Peter Kleinschmidt, a lawyer for Airbus, said in a statement.

"The aircraft were delivered as specified in the contract," the statement
read.

The company also denied accusations that it had cheated Vienna out of 183.4 million euros in so-called offset deals.

Part and parcel of big defence bids, these side agreements are aimed at boosting the local economy by ensuring international suppliers will use local companies to carry out some of the contracted work.

Austria alleges that it had unknowingly paid "legal... and also criminal" commissions to lobbyists and others not specified in the Airbus deal.

"To raise such allegations, combined with damage claims running into the millions, 16 years after the tender and eight years after delivery of the last Eurofighter aircraft, appears highly abstruse and politically motivated," Airbus said.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a major prestige product for the European defence industry, with 475 aircraft delivered so far to Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, as well as to Austria and Saudi Arabia.

In late January, Airbus had already agreed to pay tens of millions of euros in additional taxes over an allegedly shady 90-million-euro payment linked to the Austrian Eurofighter contract.

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