EADS Group Leaders are 'Not Cheats' Says CEO

CEO answers alleged insider trading accusations.

The heads of the European aerospace giant EADS and its Airbus unit insisted on April 9 that the group's executives were not cheats, as a dossier on alleged insider trading was sent to the Paris prosecutor. "I resist any idea that half of the board members of Airbus and of EADS are cheats and profiteers," said Louis Gallois. "The financial information from EADS has always answered the criteria of transparency," he added.

Gallois spoke out as France's financial regulator said April 9 it had sent its dossier on the case to Paris prosecutors' office.

Sources close to the affair said lawyers for the people named in the dossier had been summoned by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) on April 8 after the Mediapart web news service reported that the watchdog had named 17 top EADS officials. The 17 included one of the group's former chief executives and the current head of the EADS planemaking unit Airbus, said Mediapart, citing a report by the AMF.

The AMF has been probing alleged share sales before EADS announced major delays to the A380 superjumbo in 2006, which sent its stock down sharply. Mediapart said the officials were suspected of failing to respect a duty not to sell shares in light of privileged information they had. But Gallois argued: "Has anyone looked at the fact that there were not 17 executives who were tradiing stock options but 1,100 executives? 1,100 cases of insider trading at the same time, that doesn't make sense."

"The defense from EADS and from its executives will be united," he added. "We now have access to the dossier and are going to develop our defence with our lawyers. We have very solid arguments to advance."

Tom Enders, the head of Airbus, also angrily denied that he and other officials were guilty of insider trading. Apart from Enders, the Mediapart report named former EADS co-chief executive Noel Forgeard and former EADS managing director Jean-Paul Gut. Among Airbus board members named were Gustav Humbert, former chief executive of the company, and John Leahy, its commercial director. Also cited were EADS shareholders Lagardere, a French media and defense company, and German carmaker Daimler.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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