You Need A Scorecard To Sort This One Out
A complex legal
prosecution by the Canadian government against Eurocopter Canada
for illegally paying commissions in order to sell helicopters to
the Canadian Coast Guard, has been thrown out.
The byzantine legal dispute known as the "Airbus Affair" (though
the Airbus company was itself actually not involved), included
a German-Canadian lobbyist, the former prime minister of Canada, a
former premier (governor) of Newfoundland, and a journalist.
Eurocopter was the new name for the original German company
formerly known as Messerschmitt-Bolkow Blohm. It is a subsidiary of
EADS who also happens to own Airbus.
In 1986, Eurocopter Canada began delivering BO-105s to the
Canadian Coast Guard for 25 million Canadian dollars. There were no
issues with the hardware, but the contract agreement specified that
no commissions were to be paid to anyone in the deal.
In 2002, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) burst into
Eurocopter offices in Ontario looking for evidence that $1.1
million had had been improperly paid by Eurocopter to a firm
owned by then-premier Frank Moores. The money was alledgedly
channelled through a holding company run by Karlheinz Schreiber.
Schreiber was famous for having brokered a deal with Airbus to win
an order to sell 34 planes to Air Canada in 1988.
Journalist Stevie Cameron wrote two books about the Eurocopter
purchase which prompted the Mounties to begin their investigation.
It later turned out that she acted as an informant and allegedly
met with them more than once a month to share her findings. For two
years, they relied on her on-going research.
The Mounties stopped when former prime minister of Canada, Brian
Mulroney, filed a lawsuit alleging defamation because of a letter
of request sent to Swiss authorities naming him as a potential
According to the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, documents
obtained three years ago through the Access to Information Act
revealed that the Airbus investigation alone cost more than
$6.4-million. Included in that figure is $2-million the federal
government paid to ex-Prime Minister Mulroney to settle the suit
after the government conceded it had libelled him in 1995.
On Monday, perhaps figuring that maybe they could spend their
money more wisely on, say, helicopters, the Canadian
government finally gave up. At long last, after eleven years, the
Airbus Affair is over.