AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and executive chairman Kamarudin Meranun have left their positions for at least two months while there is an investigation into allegations that Airbus paid the company $50 million to win an order.
European planemaker Airbus announced last week that it would pay $4 billion to settle an investigation into corruption claims by France, the US and UK and avoid potential criminal charges.
AirAsia is one of the airlines identified in the bribery probe by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
The carrier said on Monday that its two bosses would step down immediately “for a period of two months or such other period that the company may deem fit”, according to reports.
Fernandes and Kamarudin are credited with turning AirAsia around and making it a highly successful budget airline in Malaysia.
Both men will remain as company advisors during the period and both Kamarudin and Fernandes denied any wrongdoing.
According to a notice on the SFO’s website, Airbus paid $50 million in sponsorship to a sports team owned by two key AirAsia executives.
The document claimed that the executives were rewarded with the order of 180 aircraft from Airbus.
It said: “The payments to the sports team were intended to secure or reward improper favour by them in respect of that business.”
AirAsia released a statement last week saying that it was not involved in the SFO’s investigation of Airbus.
The statement said: “AirAsia vigorously rejects and denies any and all allegations of wrongdoing.” It added that it will “fully cooperate with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission”.