AirAsia Group’s CEO Tony Fernandes and chairman Kamarudin Meranun have announced they would be stepping aside for two months, as authorities investigate allegations that Airbus had paid a bribe to win plane orders from the budget airline, reported The Straits Times.
The allegations – in which Airbus paid a bribe of US$50 million – were revealed as part of a record US$4 billion settlement Airbus agreed with France, Britain and the US. Prosecutors said the aircraft maker had bribed public officials and hidden payments as part of a pattern of worldwide corruption.
The allegations against AirAsia Group and Airbus follow the same that was made against former SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena and his wife, whose arrests have been ordered by the local court this morning.
A committee comprising the non-executive members of AirAsia’s board will review the allegations and take any necessary actions, AirAsia said in a statement.
Senior company executive Tharumalingam Kanagalingam will be the acting CEO, with changes effective immediately.
Currently, Fernandes and Kamarudin will remain advisers, however, “in view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry”, the company said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Fernandes and Kamarudin have denied any allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct as directors of AirAsia, saying they “would not harm the very companies we spent our entire lives building to their present global status”.