Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

EasyJet founder offers whistleblower reward to scupper plane deal

Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is offering £5 million for information that would help him to force easyJet to cancel a £4.5 billion Airbus order.

Sir Stelios has been arguing for months that the 107 aircraft aren't needed due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing a slump in air travel and wants the airline to pull out of the deal.

In an open letter, the businessman, whose family owns 34% of easyJet, offered £5 million for inside information about any 'untoward behaviour' that might have led to the deal between the airline and Airbus. 

He is also offering £10,000 to people who come forward with 'quick hints or tips' and says he will provide anonymity and cover an individual's legal costs.

Sir Stelios said: "We are looking for small tips, anything from lavish entertainment at the Paris Air Show up to the equivalent of the QPR sponsorship fee. 

"Any unexplained wealth or ostentatious spending by Easyjet employees could also give us a hint."

In his letter, he refers to easyJet bosses as 'scoundrels', saying they want to maintain the Airbus contract, agreed in 2013, despite his view that the deal with 'drive easyJet into insolvency' by December.

He has called a shareholder meeting to remove chairman John Barton, chief executive Johan Lundgren, finance director Andrew Findlay and independent non-executive director Andreas Bierwirth if the easyJet doesn't cancel the orders.

An extraordinary general meeting will take place on May 22 to vote on his proposals, but easyJet claimed major advisory agencies ISS, Glass Lewis and Pirc had all told shareholders to vote against Sir Stelios.

The airline and Airbus have denied all accusations of impropriety. EasJet, said a review of the Airbus deal by accountants BDO showed it had followed all the rules.

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