Airbus exec 'disappointed' to be probed twice

13th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Airbus's chief commercial officer said Monday he was disappointed that a French judge had decided to launch an insider trading probe against him despite his having been cleared of wrongdoing by the AMF market regulator.

John Leahy, a 60-year-old American, was put under formal investigation by Judge Serge Tournaire in November, the first step towards a possible trial, it was disclosed late last week.

"The AMF spent two and half years investigating, tens of thousands of documents, many interviews, a week of hearings, they decided all the charges should be dropped, the defendants are innocent," Leahy told AFP.

"To have an independent judge decide maybe they got it wrong, it's very disappointing," he added.

Leahy, who is also the European planemaker's chief operating officer, sold 260,600 shares from stock options in Airbus parent firm EADS in November 2005 and March 2006, according to the AMF, before the company announced production delays to its A380 superjumbo program.

French judicial investigators suspected the sale was triggered by inside information and that Leahy therefore made an illegal profit of 3.12 million euros.

The AMF halted its investigation of Leahy and 16 other Airbus/EADS executives in December 2009, finding no wrongdoing.

The judicial investigation, underway since 2007, remains open and active.

If found guilty, Leahy could get two years in prison and a large fine.

EADS over the weekend voiced confidence in Leahy and others implicated in the judicial probe.

"EADS is convinced that they will be proven innocent once again," the company said in a statement.

It added that the probe was part of "purely judicial steps taken by the investigating judges within the framework of the continuing investigation."

© 2010 AFP

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