Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 16:01 UK

France questions EADS executive

Airbus A380 prototype
The EADS group includes Airbus, manufacturer of the A380

An executive working for European aerospace group EADS has been detained by French police as part of an insider trading investigation.

Andreas Sperl, former finance chief at EADS unit Airbus and current head of an EADS plant in Germany, is the fourth person to be detained in the probe.

Preliminary charges have already been filed against three former EADS bosses.

Investigators are looking at shares sold before EADS disclosed delays to the A380 that caused its stock to dive.

The board of EADS reaffirmed its support for Mr Sperl and said he would continue to fulfil his duties.

In a statement from EADS, Mr Sperl said he was "convinced to have acted in full accordance with applicable law and internal rules".

Share slump

Mr Sperl is the first serving member of EADS staff to be held for questioning.

When details of delays to the A380 project were announced in June 2006, shares in EADS slumped 26% in a day.

Mr Sperl is suspected of breaching an obligation to refrain from selling shares as a holder of privileged information about delays to both the A380 and the A350 aircraft.

The Paris prosecutor began inquiries in 2006 and the financial markets authority, AMF, is also investigating.

The AMF investigation is focused on sales of shares by 17 current and former EADS executives and shareholders.

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