AirAsia Group has selected an acting chief executive, as its founders step down to facilitate an independent probe into bribery allegations involving aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun have stepped aside for a period of two months “or such other period that the company may deem fit,” while Bo Lingam takes up the head role in the meantime.
Prior to the group’s announcement, Fernandes and Meranun announced on 3 February that they would step down from their roles as group chief executive and group chairman, also for two months.
Airbus is being investigated for allegations of corruption over securing orders, and UK court documents list five counts of failing to prevent bribery, including one of activity linked to AirAsia.
Court documents released after the UK Serious Fraud Office probe into Airbus detail allegations that two AirAsia executives – both “key decision makers” at AirAsia and long-haul operation AirAsia X – were “rewarded”, through a sports sponsorship, in respect of an order for 180 aircraft.
The two executives were not identified in the court documents, and there is no indication that either Fernandes or Meranun is among the individuals referenced.
The airline has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and both Fernandes and Meranun have strongly reiterated this denial.