Austria pressing fraud charges against Airbus over fighters

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VIENNA (AP) — Austria's defense minister says that state prosecutors have begun preliminary proceedings on suspicion of fraud against Airbus and an affiliated company regarding his country's purchase of 15 combat aircraft.

The accusation against Airbus Defence and Space GmbH and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH is based on Austria's purchase of 15 used Eurofighter Typhoon planes, in 2007 for 1.56 billion euros — $1.66 billion at the present exchange rate.

Austrian officials say the country is owed the 183.4 million euros ($194 million) they say was overcharged. Claims could reach 1.1 billion euros ($1.16 billion) for a refund minus depreciation, operating costs and for an alternate system.

Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said Thursday that the prosecutors' decision to move forward confirms his ministry's suspicions.

Airbus rejects the accusations.

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