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A criminal investigation into Airbus Group SE's practices in selling planes and arranging financing overseas will seek to shed light on the use of third parties who are often critical in closing deals. The inquiry, which the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office said it opened in July and Airbus disclosed Sunday, could run for years. Airbus said in April that top management had identified questionable use of third parties and alerted the U.K. and other regulators, but the formal investigation brings the issue to a new, more serious level.One focus of the SFO inquiry is Airbus's failure to disclose its use of third parties to U.K. Export Finance, an agency that arranges credit guarantees for overseas sales.Airbus in April flagged to U.K. regulators and European export credit authorities "misstatements and omissions" involving the outside contractors in some export financing applications, which it found through an internal probe.For 2015, only 6 percent of Airbus' scheduled deliveries involved government loan guarantees, compared with about 30 percent at the height of the credit crunch, around 2009 and 2010 .
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