French prosecutors to end Airbus insider trading trial - sources

French prosecutors to end Airbus insider trading trial - sources

PARIS - French prosecutors will on Monday formally abandon insider trading charges against current and former managers of Airbus Group after they successfully challenged the process on human rights grounds, judicial sources said.

Seven current and former managers and two former industrial shareholders went on trial last year accused of illegally selling shares in 2006 in what was then known as EADS, as the company faced mounting costs on the A380 and A350 aircraft projects.

The trial was suspended after a day of legal arguments to allow the defendants to argue before a higher court that the case infringed their basic rights because they had already been cleared of identical charges by France's AMF stock regulator.

In March, France's Constitutional Court backed their argument and ordered a criminal court to halt the trial in its current form. It urged the government to change the law so that people who have already been investigated and cleared by the AMF cannot go on to face a criminal trial.

The decision was seen as a setback for prosecutors and reflected a broader tug of war between the administration and French judiciary over the so-called 'double jeopardy' rule.

At a hearing of the criminal court later on Monday, prosecutors will request that the trial be halted for the seven individuals involved, the judicial sources said.

It was not immediately clear whether this would also apply to the case against two corporate defendants, France's Lagardare and German car firm Daimler, since the AMF investigation into the two companies had been narrower.

Both companies were core shareholders in EADS and reduced their stakes in April 2006, weeks before the announcement of A380 production delays that hit its share price.

Both companies and all the individual defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

A decision to scrap the trial would wrap up more than eight years of administrative and legal wrangling caused by delays to the A380, the world's largest airliner.

The trial had also been expected to throw the spotlight on internal strategy disputes and confidential financial discussions behind the launch of another jet, the A350.

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