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Fourth EADS executive charged

Latest update : 2008-07-11

A French judge has charged Andreas Sperl with insider trading. The manager of a German subsidiary within the European aeronautics and defence group, he was freed on bail and received support from the company's board.

The head of a German EADS subsidiary, Andreas Sperl, was charged Friday with insider trading, the first serving manager at the aerospace giant to be indicted in the probe, judicial sources said.
   
Sperl, a 61-year-old German national, is accused of using inside knowledge about production delays at Airbus, the main subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence Space Company (EADS), to make massive gains on share sales.
   
A former Airbus chief financial officer who now heads an EADS plant in Dresden in eastern Germany, Sperl was ordered to pay 200,000 euros (316,000 dollars) in bail and released under condition he regularly report to police.
   
He is the first person still in a senior EADS post to be charged in the probe, in which three former bosses of the group have so far been indicted.
   
Former EADS chief executive Noel Forgeard, the company's former general manager, Jean-Paul Gut, and former Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert have already been charged in the probe although all three deny any wrongdoing.
   
Sperl was taken in for questioning by French financial police on Wednesday to answer allegations that he had privileged information about delays at Airbus when he sold EADS shares in November 2005 and March 2006.
   
France's financial market regulator AMF said in a report that Sperl sold 58,000 EADS shares in two batches, earning 816,000 euros (1.28 million dollars), before Airbus revealed delays with its A380 superjumbo.
   
The announcement in June 2006 of a six-month delivery delay on the new A380, the world's largest airliner, threw EADS and its 100-percent-owned Airbus aircraft unit into crisis and caused the EADS share price to plunge.
   
The AMF report cited 17 executives and former heads suspected of insider trading: nine French nationals, four Germans, two Americans, one Finn and one British national.
   
Those named in the report include current Airbus head Thomas Enders, its commercial director John Leahy, Francois Auque, who heads EADS's Astrium space subsidiary and Fabrice Bregier, a former Eurocopter president who now is Airbus chief operating officer.
   
All are expected to be questioned and could face charges in the far-reaching insider probe, according to sources close to the case.
   
Sperl issued a statement on Wednesday saying he was convinced he had "acted in full accordance with applicable law and internal rules."
   
"At the same time, I am relying on being treated fairly and I am confident that French justice will reach the same conclusions," he said.
   
The board of EADS on Wednesday reaffirmed its support for Sperl and said he would continue to fulfil his duties as general manager of EADS subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke, which converts passenger aircraft into cargo planes.
   
Forgeard, 61, who stepped down in July 2006, was released on May 30 after posting bail of one million euros. He made 4.3 million euros with the sale of 360,000 EADS shares, held in stock options.
   
Gut, 46, who left EADS in June of last year, allegedly sold 1.7 million euros in shares just months before Airbus revealed production delays with the A380 superjumbo.
   
He was charged with insider trading in mid-June and released on bail of 400,000 euros.
   
Humbert, 58, was released on bail of 350,000 euros. He allegedly sold 160,000 EADS shares in November 2005, earning 1.685 million euros.
   
If convicted, the men face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to 10 times the amount gained through the insider trading.

Date created : 2008-07-11

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