EADS finance director questioned in insider trading probe

The financial director of European aerospace giant EADS, Hans-Peter Ring, has been questioned as a witness in connection with a French probe into alleged insider trading in the group's shares, a German press report said Monday.

Ring told the Financial Times Deutschland he was not a suspect in an affair that has focused on more than a dozen current and former executives of the European Aeronautic Defence Space Company.

They are suspected of having sold EADS stock before problems emerged with the Airbus A380 super jumbo jet in June 2006. Reports of delivery delays caused shares in EADS, the Airbus parent, to plunge on the stock market.

Ring was questioned two or three weeks ago, the newspaper said.

On Sunday, Airbus boss Thomas Enders, who could also face questioning in connection with the probe, blasted it as a “show trial” in comments at a seminar in Farnborough, England before the start of an international airshow.

Stefan Zoller, head of the defence and security branch of EADS, said for his part that the whole investigation was “difficult to understand.”

A total of 17 current and former EADS directors, of whom 11 still work for the company, have been identified for questioning by the French stock market watchdog, the Autorite des Marches Financiers.

They include nine French nationals, four Germans, two Americans, one Finn and one British national.