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Airbus bribery probe soon over: German prosecutors

© POOL/AFP | German prosecutors say a corruption probe into a Eurofighter sale will soon be over

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) - 

A corruption probe into aircraft manufacturer Airbus over the sale of fighter jets to Austria will "soon be over," a spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors told AFP Friday.

Bavarian investigators have been looking into the European firm "since 2012," prosecutor Hildegard Baeumler-Hoesl said, adding that they had "little evidence so far of corruption".

Only once the probe is done will prosecutors decide whether or not to bring charges.

Meanwhile, news weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday without citing sources that prosecutors were "preparing charges" against unnamed suspects over the case.

"The assertion of Der Spiegel that a charge is being prepared and filed soon is not based on any declaration or disclosure by the public prosecutor," an Airbus spokesperson told AFP.

"Internal investigators stumbled across more than 100 possibly corrupt payments in the three-digit millions," the magazine reported citing anonymous sources.

An Airbus business unit in Paris reportedly built a network of shell companies linked to London-based Vector Aerospace, formerly the group's aircraft maintenance subsidiary.

Its system allowed the group to make "bribes to decision-makers in Austria" while Vienna was mulling its purchase of Eurofighter military jets, Spiegel added -- culminating in a 15-aircraft deal worth around 1.7 billion euros.

Austrian authorities are also investigating Airbus after bringing charges in February, claiming between 183 million and 1.1 billion euros from the company over under-the-table "commissions".

And probes have been opened in France and Britain, on suspicion of corruption in Airbus' UK-based civil aviation arm.

© 2017 AFP