Airbus has fired 16 employees over an investigation into suspected industrial espionage. Airbus reports that German prosecutors were investigating suspected internal spying by Airbus employees over two arms projects with the German armed forces. According to German media reports, the Airbus employees had obtained secret files of the German army involving the acquisition of a communication system, among other subjects. “Some of our employees had documents that they shouldn’t have had,” a source said at the time. The employees work in the Munich-based Program Line Communications, Intelligence and Security (CIS), which handles cybersecurity and related activities.
An Airbus official said at the time that the classified documents related “to two future German [military] procurement projects”, and that the company had “self-reported […] potential wrongdoings by several employees […] to German authorities”. The official added that “[s]ome of our employees had documents that they shouldn’t have had”. It later emerged that the documents related to plans by the German Armed Forces to acquire a communication system from one of Airbus’ rival companies.
Following the September 2018 announcement, Airbus said that it had suspended 20 of its employees while it conducted an “ongoing internal review with the support of an external law firm”. At the same time it said that it was “fully cooperating with relevant authorities [in Germany] to resolve the matter”.