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Kuwait probes Airbus Helicopters deal

Posted 20 July 2018 · Add Comment

Kuwait Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, has ordered an investigation into the €1 billion ($1.19 billion) order signed by the air force for 30 H225M Caracal multirole military utility helicopters, 24 of them for the Kuwaiti Air Force and six for the Kuwait National Guard.

“It has been decided to transfer the case of the Caracal helicopter deal to the National Anti-Corruption Commission,” said Kuwait Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Anas al-Saleh. The deal will also be probed by the State Audit Bureau (SAB).
The investigation was launched after the French magazine, Marianne, alleged that a Lebanese middleman, Farid Abdelnour, had demanded a commission payment of €60 million ($71 million) from Airbus in connection with the deal.
The contract for the helicopters, plus an associated support and services package, was originally signed on August 9 2016, during a visit to Kuwait by the then French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. As Foreign Minister, Le Drian is now in the middle of delicate negotiations aimed at settling the problem.
The Kuwaiti order for the Caracal, which is a military counterpart to the EC225/H225, provided a useful boost for the type after an emergency airworthiness directive grounded the commercial H225 fleet following a fatal accident in Norway.
Kuwait originally issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a new medium helicopter in 2013, selecting the H225M Caracal in June 2015, while rejecting an AgustaWestland proposal based on the AW149 and a Sikorsky S-70i bid.
Kuwait had previously purchased Gazelles, Pumas and Super Pumas from Airbus Helicopters and its predecessor companies (Eurocopter and Aerospatiale) and the new aircraft were intended to replace a fleet of 11 older SA330 Puma and AS332 Super Puma variants.
Delivery of the first helicopters was originally expected in early 2019.
The Kuwaiti probe is the latest in a series of investigations into commercial and military sales by Airbus. In 2016, the British Serious Fraud Office started investigating “irregularities” involving the company’s use of middlemen to secure contracts overseas; the French Parquet National Financier opened a similar investigation in 2017; and there is also an Austrian investigation into allegations of fraud and misrepresentation connected to the Alpine nation’s Eurofighter purchase.
 

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