Austria sued Airbus SE on Thursday for willful deception on the true purchase price, deliverability and equipment of Eurofighter jets that were purchased by the defense ministry for €2 billion in 2003.
Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said at a news conference in Vienna that damages could potentially amount up to €1.1 billion.
“As defense minister, I consider it my duty to report facts relevant for criminal prosecution and to claim compensation for the Austrian taxpayers’ damage,” Doskozil said.
The claims were filed after a long investigation by Austrian and German authorities into supposed bribery allegations made against the Eurofighter consortium in 2007, when Austria changed its initial order of 18 jets to 15.
Airbus builds the Eurofighter in collaboration with BAE systems and Leonardo, meaning the lawsuit is filed against corporations from four different EU member states: Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain.
Airbus was unable to comment at the present time, although a spokesman noted that it would comply with any legal inquiries.
“We can however confirm that in recent years we have supported the activities by the legal authorities, for instance through (our) own investigations,” he said.