AirAsia bosses back after internal inquiry clears them of Airbus scandal links

Tony Fernandes is Group CEO and Kamarudin Meranun is executive chairman of AirAsia.

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun are back to the budget airline’s top posts after an internal inquiry cleared them of wrongdoing over the purchase of Airbus aircraft.

Fernandes is the executive director and group CEO of AirAsia, while Kamarudin is the executive chairman.

Last month, the duo relinquished their executive roles for two months in the wake of allegations that the airline received a US$50 million (RM219 million) bribe from aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

A statement released by AirAsia today said that auditors BDO Governance Advisory Sdn Bhd had cleared them of any wrongdoing.

It said AirAsia Berhad has a “robust aircraft procurement process”, adding that its sponsorship of a sports team was also in compliance with its procedures.

“The sponsorship of the sports team by Airbus was disclosed to and supported by the board of directors of AAB at the relevant time.

“The sponsorship showed demonstrable benefits to the AirAsia Group and was not linked to any purchase decisions by AAB,” AirAsia said.

BDO also said Fernandes and Kamarudin had disclosed their interests to AAB’s board of directors and had abstained from “discussions and/or decisions relating to the said sponsorships”.

Last month, legal documents had mentioned two “executives” at AirAsia and AirAsia X, linking them to instances of bribery by Airbus to secure contracts through corrupt middlemen to sell its aircraft worldwide.

The documents were part of a multi-billion dollar settlement reached with anti-corruption authorities in Britain, France and the United States, after Airbus admitted to “endemic levels of bribery across its international business”.

It said Airbus was alleged to have paid the two unnamed “executives” – dubbed “key decision-makers” at AirAsia – some US$50 million and also sponsored an F1 racing team in exchange for purchasing Airbus aircraft.

AirAsia denied any wrongdoing and said it would cooperate with authorities probing the allegations.