Accusations of "massive" insider trading by Airbus executives and shareholders have exploded into full-out political scandal. French investigators have learned that 21 top executives and two big shareholders in EADS, the Franco-German consortium that owns the airplane company, cashed in stocks shortly before Airbus announced a June, 2006, production delay for its A380. The setback caused shares to drop 30% in one day.
Airbus' former CEO cashed in $3.4 million in shares before the drop, which he terms "an unfortunate coincidence." One shareholder accused of insider trading is Lagardere, the media consortium headed by a friend of Nicolas Sarkozy. Lagardere is now suing Le Figaro, the French daily that broke the accusations, after its own stock price dropped 6% yesterday.