Ex-Airbus boss Humbert under formal investigation

2/07/2008 - 19:20

PARIS (Reuters) - Former Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert has been placed under formal investigation as part of a probe into allegations of insider trading at European aerospace group EADS , a Paris judicial source said on Wednesday.

Humbert, a German national, was released on bail of 350,000 euros ($552,500) on Wednesday following two days in police custody.

Humbert resigned in 2006 after the announcement of delays to the A380 superjumbo, which sharply hit the share price of Airbus' parent company EADS . He is the third former executive to be questioned while in temporary police detention.

Former EADS co-chief executive Noel Forgeard and former international director Jean-Paul Gut were questioned under detention and placed under formal investigation last month.

Being placed under formal investigation in France is a step short of charges but can lead to trial.

French police are investigating claims that EADS top executives and industrial shareholders knew of the increasing threat of delays to the Airbus A380 superjumbo when they sold shares in 2005 and 2006.

The announcement of worsening delays in building the world's largest airliner wiped a quarter off the value of EADS shares on a single day in June 2006.

A total of 17 current and former executives, along with EADS shareholders Lagardere and Daimler , were cited in a recent report to prosecutors on suspected insider trading by France's market watchdog AMF.

($1=.6335 Euro)

(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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