Exec charged with insider trading

2008-07-11 13:49

Paris - The head of a German EADS subsidiary, former top Airbus executive Andreas Sperl, was charged on Friday with insider trading at the aerospace group, judicial sources said.

Sperl, a 61-year-old German national, is accused of using inside knowledge about production delays at Airbus, the main subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence Space Company(EADS), to make massive gains on share sales.

A former Airbus chief financial officer who now heads an EADS plant in Dresden in estern Germany, Sperl is the first serving senior manager to be charged in the probe, in which three former EADS bosses have so far been indicted.

Sperl was ordered to pay 200 000 euros in bail and released under strict conditions including that he regularly report to police.

He was taken in for questioning by French financial police on Wednesday.

France's financial market regulator AMF said in a report that Sperl sold 58 000 EADS shares in November 2005 and March 2006, earning €816 000 before Airbus revealed delays with its A380 superjumbo.

The announcement in June 2006 of a six-month delivery delay on the new A380, the world's largest airliner, threw EADS and its 100-percent-owned Airbus aircraft unit into crisis and caused the EADS share price to plunge.

The former boss of Airbus, German Gustav Humbert, and two French former EADS executives, Noel Forgeard and Jean-Paul Gut, have already been charged with insider trading for selling shares during the same period.

The AMF report cited 17 executives and former heads as having engaged in insider trading: 9 French nationals, 4 Germans, 2 Americans, 1 Finn and 1 British national.

Sperl issued a statement on Wednesday saying he was convinced he had "acted in full accordance with applicable law and internal rules."

"At the same time, I am relying on being treated fairly and I am confident that French justice will reach the same conclusions," he said.

The board of EADS on Wednesday reaffirmed its support for Sperl and said he would continue to fulfil his duties as general manager of EADS subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke, which converts passenger aircraft into cargo planes.

- Sapa