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Airbus Case Marks a Milestone in International Anti Corruption Cooperation

Anti-Corruption Report

Airbus SE, one of the preeminent manufacturers of airplanes, has settled allegations that it used third-party intermediaries to bribe foreign officials to win contracts all over the world and agreed to pay the largest anti-corruption penalty in history. The $3.9 billion in combined penalties will be divided among U.S., U.K. and French enforcement authorities.


The French Blocking Statute

France has what is commonly known as a “blocking statute,” Law No. 68-678 of 26 July 1968, which prohibits French citizens from making certain disclosures of information in foreign judicial and administrative proceedings. The blocking statute played a key role in the Airbus investigation because it limited the extent to which the company could provide documents to the SFO and DOJ.

“The statute is tailored to protect French citizens and corporations from the extraterritorial reach of other countries, specifically the United States,” Shawn Wright, a partner at Blank Rome, told the Anti-Corruption Report.


At the same time, the blocking statute has not proven to be an insurmountable obstacle for companies looking to cooperate with U.S. or other authorities. Historically, “the penalties for violating the blocking statute were not significant,” Wright said, and enforcement by French authorities has been virtually non-existent.

"Airbus Case Marks a Milestone in International Anti‑Corruption Cooperation," by Megan Zwiebel was published in the Anti-Corruption Report on February 19, 2020.